WASHINGTON – With one blind trust valued at between $5 million and $25 million, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (search) isn't in politics for the money. The Tennessee Republican also has myriad holdings, including real estate and part ownership of Hot Hits, Inc., a Nashville music recording company.
Frist, former heart-lung transplant surgeon whose family founded one of the nation's largest for-profit hospital chains, also reported two other blind trusts each valued in the $1 million and $5 million range. These assets were reported as part of financial disclosure forms released by senators on Monday.
Frist's wife, Karyn, and his three sons each had blind trusts worth more than $1 million. The surgeon's boys listed holdings included small interests in Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and fast-food vendor Wendy's International.
In contrast, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle (search) reported a more modest financial portfolio, although he received gross income of $583,250 for a book contract with Crown Publishing for his work "Like No Other Time: The 107th Congress and the Two Years that Changed America Forever." All after-tax proceeds from the book were donated to charity.
Sen. John Kerry (search), D-Mass., because of his status as a presidential contender, released his forms last month. Kerry reported between $430,000 and $2.1 million in four separate trusts. But his fortune was overshadowed by that of his wife, Teresa Heinz, who is worth about $500 million.
Heinz Kerry inherited her wealth from her first husband, Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa., heir to the Heinz food fortune who was killed in a 1991 plane crash. She earned more than $5 million last year from investments and paid about $750,000 in taxes.
Kerry is not the only senior senator with an affluent wife. The spouse of Senate Republican Whip Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Labor Secretary Elaine Chao, owns a Washington property with a carriage house and mutual fund shares, with each asset worth between $500,000 and $1 million.
The wife of Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., Hadassah, earned $80,000 in fees for eight speeches, mostly to Jewish organizations.
Among other disclosures:
— Sen. Robert Byrd (search), D-W.Va., ranking Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, was another senator in the publishing business, receiving a $40,000 advance for his book, "Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency."
— Sen. Charles Grassley (search), R-Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, saw the net income on his family farm grow from $36,950 in 2002 to $45,384. To back that up, he has nearly four dozen separate investments; the largest is a bond worth $100,001-$250,000.
— Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (search), D-W.Va., the top Democrat on the Select Committee on Intelligence, has at least $84.5 million in assets, mostly in blind trusts and other investments from his massive family fortune. Those investments earned more than $1.2 million last year.
All 535 members of Congress are required to submit financial disclosure forms every year that show outside sources of income, assets, liabilities, travel paid by private interests and speech honoraria. The value of income and assets is reported within broad dollar ranges.
House financial disclosure reports come out Wednesday.