Financial States in Question for VP Hopefuls

WASHINGTON (AP) — Not that they’re a step away from the poor house, but some of Mitt Romney’s potential vice presidential running mates are grappling with the same financial issues as many other Americans.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, for example, has had to save one home from foreclosure, is underwater on another and is still paying off a college loan. Others, like Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, are multimillionaires, though hardly in a financial class with Romney.

Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman is a billionaire whose wealth far exceeds Romney’s.

Portman, a former White House budget director and U.S. trade representative, has assets of $7 million to $20 million or more, according to financial disclosure reports released Thursday for members of Congress. Portman’s assets include a money market fund of at least $1 million and a family corporation that owns a combined inn and restaurant in Lebanon, Ohio, as well as other commercial properties and vacant land.

Daniels has a blind trust, so it’s impossible to know the value of his assets. However, a 2001 Wall Street Journal article noted that Daniels, when he was the White House budget director, disclosed assets of $18 million to $75.3 million.

Rubio probably has faced more financial issues than other people being talked about as possible vice presidential candidates.

In 2010 when he was running for the Senate, Deutsche Bank began foreclosure proceedings against a home he co-owns in Tallahassee. The former state House speaker and the other owner, another legislator, had failed to pay the full mortgage for five months. Rubio said the missed payments resulted from a dispute over the mortgage terms, and the matter was resolved with a payment of more than $9,500.

His personal residence in Miami currently is “under water,” with his loan amount of $250,000-$500,000 greater than the home’s value, according to spokesman Alex Conant.

If Romney picks Rubio as his running mate, and the Republicans win in November, the senator also might become the only vice president to still be paying off a college loan. His latest financial disclosure report said he owes lender Sallie Mae $100,000-$250,000.

Rubio isn’t alone among the people on the V.P. list in facing financial issues.

Tax records show that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and her husband paid $4,500 in penalties in 2005-2009 for late federal income taxes. Their 2010 return was the first in years that the Haleys filed on time and without late penalties.

Several potential Romney running mates have set up college savings accounts for their children — including Rubio, Sens. John Thune of South Dakota and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The Associated Press reviewed financial disclosure reports and other publicly available data to obtain information about the finances of possible GOP vice presidential choices. Others include Govs. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Susana Martinez of New Mexico.

Some have made their tax returns available. The financial information that states require from officials and office seekers varies widely, and generally is less revealing than federal reports — which require ranges of assets, income and liabilities.

Romney has campaigned with most of the people being talked about, testing their personal chemistry and how well their staffs work with his. Pawlenty and Portman were both early endorsers of Romney. Portman will be with him again this weekend on a bus tour through swing-state Ohio.

The former Massachusetts governor has an apparent rapport with Ryan, the architect of the House Republicans’ budget plan. Rubio, McDonnell and Ayotte also have appeared at events with Romney. And, like Portman and Ryan, they represent what are now viewed as toss-up states in November.

Romney’s own latest financial disclosure report shows him with a fortune of nearly $250 million. Among his possible running mates, only Whitman, the unsuccessful candidate for governor in California two years ago, has more — $1.4 billion says Forbes magazine in its list of the 400 richest Americans.

Contrast that with Martinez, whose disclosure form is almost blank. She earns $110,000 a year as New Mexico’s governor and lists no other sources of income except her husband’s retirement money from the state.

Haley and her husband earned $367,000 in 2011, her freshman year as governor, but $200,000 of that was from a partial advance on her memoir, according to tax returns she allowed reporters to view.

Haley wasn’t the only potential VP pick with a book deal. Pawlenty received $342,000. Jindal reported income from his book over two years: between $50,000 and $99,999 in 2009 and the same amount in 2010. Daniels also wrote a book but was not required to list his earnings from it. Ryan earned royalties of $2,501 to $5,000, which he said were used for “approved expenses and charitable donations.”

Pawlenty, who filed a federal disclosure form during his brief run for president last year, had to earn his way through college. His August 2011 filing shows he’s doing much better now. The last year of his gubernatorial salary, his book advance and income from speeches — most of them for $24,000 each — pushed his income to more than $705,000 over a period covering 2010 through mid-August 2011.

Another woman Romney could turn to for a running mate is freshman Sen. Ayotte. She has just a year-and-a-half of Senate experience but was New Hampshire’s attorney general for six years. Ayotte helped her husband, who flew combat missions in Iraq, start a landscaping and snow removal business, and a number of their assets are under his name.

She listed a jointly held checking account with between $100,001 and $250,000 and a Nashua condominium with the same valuation, which earns $5,000 to $15,000 in rent. The couple is paying two home loans, one between $250,001 and $500,000, the second between $100,001 and $250,000.

Thune and his wife have a mutual fund and a money market account, each worth between $50,000 and $100,000. He and his wife have three other investments, each valued between $15,000 and $50,000. One is a college fund.

Some of Romney’s potential choices have spouses with high salaries. The wife of New Jersey Gov. Christie is a vice president at investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald, earning between $250,000 and $500,000 a year. Christie owns property in his state worth more than a half million dollars. He and his wife each have a blind trust.

Ryan’s wife has investments in mining, gravel rights, mineral rights and timber. She also has a one-third interest in her late mother’s trust valued between $1 million and $5 million. She reported distributions from the trust of $100,000 to $1 million.

McDonnell, of Virginia, receives between $50,000 and $250,000 for each of his two rental homes in the resort town of Virginia Beach and less than $50,000 from a third rental property in Wintergreen, Va.

Louisiana ethics rules do not require disclosure of the value of mutual funds, exempting Jindal from listing his holdings. The form does require a listing of income, and Jindal lists three mutual funds. Each one produced income between $5,000 and $24,999 in 2011.