With $319,000 of net worth, Ron DeSantis is the anti-Donald Trump when it comes to his own money, new records show
FloridaGov. Ron DeSantisis a prominent politician with a relatively low net worth.
- He doesn't hold stocks or own property, and still has student loans.
Former President Donald Trump's investments are exotic, impenetrable, and monumental.
The net worth for the 43-year old DeSantis is $318,986.99, according to a financial disclosure he filed last week with the state Division of Elections.
He doesn't trade stocks, still has $21,284.92 in student loans, and doesn't own property.
Compare that to Trump, who turned 76 on Tuesday and was likely the wealthiest man ever to live in the White House after overseeing a vast real estate empire that included golf courses, condos, and opulent private clubs under the umbrella of the privately owned Trump Organization.
Forbes estimates Trump's net worth at $3 billion, through Trump himself has pegged the figure at $10 billion. It's a huge matter of debate given that Trump famously refused to publish his tax returns that would reveal his annual income (though some of the documents leaked to the New York Times).
DeSantis is up for reelection in Florida and has not yet said if he's running for president. He tends to brush off questions about it when asked.
But Trump is closely watching the governor as the former president constantly hints that he'll run again. Political insiders assume DeSantis will run because he has raised an enormous amount of campaign cash and has been unafraid to insert himself into high-profile battles against the Biden administration.
DeSantis less wealthy than many prominent politicians
Some politicians like to highlight their lack of relative wealth as a positive attribute. President
DeSantis was raised by working class parents and attended Ivy League schools before joining the Navy. He hasn't said much about his money but appears to hold fewer dollars personally than anyone else running for Florida governor.
Democratic gubernatorial Charlie Crist, 65, has a net worth close to $2 million, his financial disclosures show. The other Democratic challenger, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, 44, filed a disclosure with the state Division of Elections on Tuesday but it wasn't posted yet, her campaign said. She listed her 2020 net worth at $970,244, according to the Capitolist.
DeSantis' finances have fallen from where they were in 2020, when he reported a net worth of $348,832. The change can be attributed to the market downturn that caused reductions in his USAA checking and savings account and in his thrift savings plan, which is a type of retirement savings and investment plan, the governor's office confirmed.
In his financial disclosures, DeSantis writes that his only income for 2021 was the $134,181 he made as governor. The salary represents a pay cut from the $174,000 he made when he was a member of the US House representing Florida's 6th District from 2013 to 2018.
At the time DeSantis didn't have a separate home in Washington, DC, but instead slept on a couch in his congressional office and showered in the House gym.
Today, DeSantis lives in the governor's mansion and holds no property after selling his Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, home in March 2019 for $460,000, according to The Associated Press. The DeSantises placed the earnings from the house into the USAA account.
In 2021 DeSantis continued to pay down his Sallie Mae student loan. The balance fell from $22,225 at the end of 2020 to $21,285 as of December 31. DeSantis received an undergraduate degree in history from Yale University and a law degree from Harvard University.
DeSantis has criticized Biden's forthcoming plans to have the government pay off some student loan debt, saying taxpayers shouldn't have to shoulder the burden. Instead he favors holding colleges liable for their high prices, he has said at numerous public events.
DeSantis doesn't hold individual stocks, his gubernatorial disclosures indicate, though an annual report he filed in Congress in 2018 shows he held two stocks, each valued between $1,000 and $15,000, in Sirius XM and United States Steel Corporation. He did not buy or sell the stocks during his time in Congress, according to an Insider review of his past financial documents.
DeSantis could still get rich
The financial disclosures DeSantis released look similar to that of many Americans.
"We do want our elected officials to be in touch with the struggles that everyday people go through," said Ben Wilcox, research director at Integrity Florida, a nonpartisan transparency and anti-corruption research group. "It does seem more and more that we are electing a wealthy, elite, kind of candidate to positions of power."
But, Wilcox added, some politicians who do have tremendous wealth can still have strong policies geared toward helping working people.
As Florida's chief executive, DeSantis is a fiscal conservative. He recently vetoed $3.1 billion in proposed spending from the Florida legislature and announced that Florida would have a $20 billion surplus for the next fiscal year.
DeSantis is still a rising star in politics and could become tremendously wealthy in the future even by staying in politics.
DeSantis did report getting some royalties from his book "Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama," for a total of $7,834, in 2012. The book was about constitutional law, however, and was not a memoir.
Other politicians parlay their experience into high paying lobbying jobs or get high-dollar rates for paid speeches.
There are other ways DeSantis could enhance his lifestyle. For instance, DeSantis has raised $124 million for his reelection campaign. That's a startling amount of cash. As a point of comparison, the highest-raising candidate in the Senate is Democratic Sen. Rafael Warnock of Georgia, who's campaign war chest is $73 million.
Campaign laws are lax in Florida and there are few restrictions on how that money can be used, Wilcox said. Some of that money could be used for personal expenses that get billed as "consulting" or "travel." Citing a hypothetical scenario, Wilcox said DeSantis could pay his wife, for instance, to consult for the campaign, and increase their net worth that way. The rules would be more strict if DeSantis wanted to seek federal office.
"If he was going to try to enhance his personal wealth through his political committee there are ways he could do that," Wilcox said, "but I don't have any evidence that he has done any of those things."
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