tampabay.com

Being governor hits Bush's wallet

The governor's net worth, $1.4-million, is down 41 percent over his two terms in office.

By JONI JAMES
Published July 7, 2006


TALLAHASSEE - It just doesn't pay to be Florida's governor. At least not if you're Jeb Bush.

Gov. Bush once again saw his net worth decline in 2005, to about $1.4-million, his latest financial disclosure shows. The report, required under Florida ethics law, bolsters the governor's No. 1 reason why he won't run for president in 2008: He and his wife can't afford it.

Bush, elected in 1998, has seen his net worth diminish 41 percent since taking office, when he authorized a third-party trustee to make investment decisions. Last year, his net worth was $41,000 higher.

Bush was vacationing in Maine this week and couldn't be reached for comment. But the two-term Republican governor has lamented publicly that his family's finances have taken a hit because of his public service.

The great irony, Bush has quipped, is that he is a former Miami real estate developer who sat out the state's biggest real estate boom in history.

The only real estate listed in Bush's disclosure: a Coral Gables condominium valued at $350,000, $80,000 more than in 2004.

Bush spent $17,000 to keep up his household last year, $5,000 in federal income taxes and another $181,000 on taxes on unrealized net gains.

His income included his governor's salary of $127,804 and $65,000 in income from dividends or capital gains from investments.

The two Republican Cabinet members vying to succeed Bush fared far better in 2005. Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher, who will face Attorney General Charlie Crist in the September gubernatorial primary, saw his net worth climb $135,851 to $1.9-million. Crist's net worth grew by $21,763 to $422,713.

A financial disclosure for the third Cabinet member, Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson, wasn't available Thursday. Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, co-owner of her family's Orlando construction firm, saw her net worth decrease by $63,000 to $3.4-million.

Net worth is assets minus liabilities. Bush's assets of $1.6-million were offset by $203,000 in liabilities.