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Monday, August 13, 2012 - Page updated at 08:30 p.m.
Paul Ryan's net worth has increased 75 percent in past decade
By Cary Spivak
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
MILWAUKEE — The past decade has been very good financially for Paul Ryan — the Janesville, Wis., congressman's net worth increased at least 75 percent, and he purchased a historic home once owned by the top executive of Parker Pen.
Federal financial disclosure forms show that last year Ryan, 42, had assets of between $2.1 million and $7.8 million — figures that include a trust valued at between $1 million and $5 million inherited by his wife, Janna, after her mother died in 2010. A disclosure form said Ryan had assets of $479,000 to $1.6 million in 2001.
The disclosure forms do not require elected officials to give exact values of assets or income. Rather, they allow ranges, such as between $1 million and $5 million.
Excluding the inheritance, Ryan's net worth increased by up to 130 percent in a decade marked by a deep recession and a volatile stock market.
Although Ryan's net worth is in the typical range for a congressman — the Center for Responsive Politics placed the 2010 average at $5.9 million — it puts him well above the average worker.
"This eviscerates the message that he is a regular guy," said Steven Durlauf, an economics professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and self-described liberal Democrat.
A review of state, federal and county records provides a glimpse at the finances of the seven-term congressman. The records show:
Ryan paid state income tax of $14,150 in 2011, which, at the maximum state tax rate of 7.75 percent would equal taxable income of about $182,000. Members of Congress are paid $174,000 annually.
The state Department of Revenue does not release any other information about the tax payment, including whether it is from a joint return. Ryan, through a spokesman, declined to release his state and federal returns.
Ryan's investments generated income of between $72,905 and $223,000 last year. Many of the investments are in trusts or partnerships managed by other family members, according to an email from Kevin Seifert, a Ryan spokesman.
The investments include a partnership and several companies that lease "land and mineral rights to energy companies," Seifert said. Ryan valued investments in those companies at between $350,000 and $800,000. They provided the Ryans with income of between $40,000 and $130,000 last year.
"As these are properties Rep. Ryan 'married into,' for lack of a better term," Seifert wrote, "he does not play an active role in them and has no plans to."
Tim Smeeding, a UW-Madison professor of public affairs and economics, said he had no issue with the Ryans profiting from high energy prices.
"There's smoke here, but I can't find the fire," he said. "Once you get that price of oil around 100 bucks a barrel, all kinds of things that weren't economical at $40 become economical."
Democratic and liberal blog sites have criticized Ryan's energy holdings and argue that they pose a conflict for Ryan because of tax breaks for oil companies in the Ryan budget plan.
In June 2010, the Ryans purchased a six-bedroom, 5,786-square-foot home for nearly $421,000.
The home, which is on the block where Ryan grew up, was owned by the estate of George S. Parker II, former chairman of the state Republican Party and chief executive of Parker Pen. The home was donated to a nonprofit group after Parker died in 2004. The nonprofit valued the home at $450,000.
Seifert said the sale price was reached after two appraisals.
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