Romney wealthiest candidate

WASHINGTON – Republican Mitt Romney is expected to report financial assets between $190 million and $250 million, an amount that would likely make him the wealthiest of the 2008 presidential candidates.

Aides to the former Massachusetts governor said his assets have been held in a blind trust that he and his wife set up when he took office in 2002.

The adviser who provided the estimate of his assets cautioned that the number is based on 2005 and 2006 financial activity and could amount to a bigger total once the disclosure report is filed later this year.

The adviser spoke on condition of anonymity because the totals have not been officially released. The deadline for filing financial disclosures is Tuesday but Romney on Friday obtained an extension.

Romney lent his campaign $2 million this year and could clearly tap his wealth again if necessary. Romney is not the wealthiest candidate ever to run for president.

Steve Forbes, who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination in 1996, had an estimate net worth of more than $430 million. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, reported a net worth between $165 million and $235 million in 2005, most of it controlled by his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Under federal law, officials who are required to divulge their finances must only list their assets and income in broad ranges, making it impossible to pinpoint their exact wealth.

Romney also has a blind trust for his children and grandchildren that is estimated to hold assets between $70 million and $100 million, the adviser said.

In 1984, Romney founded Bain Capital, an investment company that helped finance Staples, Domino’s Pizza and Brookstone. He then became interim CEO at Bain and Co., the consulting firm where he had worked in the early 1980s. He was credited with pulling Bain and Co., out of financial straits.

Romney, 60, also was CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The estimated total is the first glimpse of Romney’s wealth since he has been a public official. Aides said his holdings are complicated, spread across partnerships, investment funds and hedge funds.

One adviser said obtaining the underlying assets of the hedge fund alone is “a pretty arduous task.”

Romney received permission Friday from the Federal Election Commission to delay the official filing of his financial disclosure documents for 45 days beyond Tuesday’s deadline. Candidates are entitled to obtain two extensions of up to 45 days each.

Most presidential candidates have yet to file their reports.


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