Determining an exact figure is impossible from public disclosure reports, but Roll Call magazine has estimated that U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is worth $44.2 million, making him the 10th wealthiest member of Congress.
That’s down from Buchanan’s eighth-place showing in 2010, when he was worth $55.47 million, according to Roll Call.
The best observers can do is estimate a congressman’s or senator’s wealth because they are required to report their assets and liabilities only in broad ranges. Roll Call determines a bottom-line amount by taking the minimum value of a member’s assets and subtracting the minimum value of the liabilities.
How Buchanan’s estimated wealth dropped by 20 percent was not clear, but Roll Call noted that Buchanan reported selling off three of his six auto dealerships -- two in Port Richey and one in Venice -- in 2010, claiming losses on each of the sales.
Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, also wrote off at least $1.5 million in loans to former business partner Sam Kazran, a key figure in investigations of Buchanan’s campaign financing activities.
An auto dealership that Buchanan and Kazran formerly co-owned has been fined almost $68,000 for illegally reimbursing employees who made campaign contributions to Buchanan’s campaign.
The Federal Elections Commission took no action against Buchanan, but the congressman’s lawyers and campaign acknowledged last month that the U.S. Justice Department was now investigating the matter.
Roll Call noted that Buchanan still has significant investment accounts and real estate, along with three auto dealerships worth at least a combined $11 million.
Buchanan also dropped $6 million in debts from his previous report.
The wealthiest member of Congress, according to Roll Call, is Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who is worth an estimated $294.21 million.