Financial disclosures can make money disappear
Kohl, who owns the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks, is almost certainly still among the wealthiest members of Congress. But as Roll Call's annual list of the 50 richest members of Congress highlights, details remain obscured when lawmakers disclose their financial details.
Roll Call only uses the personal financial disclosures, which are required to be filled out by members of Congress and top staff, in determining its list. But since assets and debts are disclosed only within broad ranges, rather than exact values, Roll Call readily acknowledges that its list doesn't always reflect reality.
Kohl's drop is the most egregious example. To determine members' net worth, Roll Call uses the low end of all ranges in adding up assets and subtracting liabilities. But on the forms, the Bucks are simply listed as worth "more than $50 million" even though Forbes estimated last year that the franchise is worth $242 million.
This year, Kohl reported two new loans of $5 million and $25 million, which along with his other outstanding debts were enough to cancel out the reported assets using Roll Call's methodology.
Differences in how assets are reported can also lead to big changes in the net worth numbers. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) nearly doubled his wealth, according to Roll Call, simply by reporting portions of an investment account separately. Last year, McCaul listed an account in the $25-50 million range. This year, he reported two portions of the account separately, both of which fell into the $25-50 million category.