Bredesen investments, income range between $92 million and $378 million

Bredesen investments, income range between $92 million and $378 million

March 30th, 2018 by Andy Sher in Breaking News

NASHVILLE - Democrat Phil Bredesen would become one of the wealthiest members in Congress if the former Tennessee governor is elected to the U.S. Senate.

Bredesen's disclosures, filed with the Senate on Friday, show the businessman had assets and income of between $92.2 million to $378 million as the former governor and now-U.S. Senate candidate filed his disclosure on Friday.

The bulk of that was in investments and other assets, which totaled between $88.9 million and $358 million. He reported income of between $3.3 million and $20.1 million.

He reported his liabilities at less than $10,000. The report covers the period from January 2017 through February of 2018.

It's the former governor's first disclosure since announcing in December that he is running for the seat held by retiring Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. 

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is running in the GOP primary along with two less well-known Republicans. Her 2016 disclosure, filed with the House, shows she could have a negative net worth.

Blackburn reported between $168,000 and $520,000 in assets as well as $4,600 from the former state senator's legislative pension. She and her husband, Chuck Blackburn, had debts ranging from $400,000 and $850,000, all from mortgages.

The report doesn't disclose Chuck Blackburn's income.

Both the Senate and House disclosures are intended to give the public a sense of candidates' holdings and wealth although they exclude information about homes, vehicles and other personal property. 

But the asset and income categories are quite broad.

As governor, Bredesen, who was already a multi-millionaire, routinely released the first top pages of his income tax returns. He told reporters he doesn't intend to in this race.

"I actually think this is much more comprehensive than the income tax returns," he said of the Senate disclosure. "I'm doing what the law requires." 

Among other things, they show that Bredesen, who donated his annual salary to charitable groups while governor, is receiving an annual state pension of $110,908. He explained he decided to collect the pension because he had to pay taxes on his salary.

Bredesen owns stock and remains chairman of Silicon Ranch Corp., a solar energy provider that was started by two former top aides with his backing. Bredesen in 2017 held between $25,000,001 and $50 million in the non-publicly traded company's stock.

Bredesen also received interest payments of between $1.1 million and $6 million in interest on $10 million to $50 million worth of loans previously made to Silicon Ranch as well as an allied company, SR Finco LLC.

Earlier this year Shell acquired a 43.83 percent interest in Silicon Ranch that could total $217 million.

Bredesen said he step down from Silicon as chairman if elected, held between $25,000,001 and $50 million in non-publicly traded company's stock as well as receiving $200,

Other holdings include Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble Co. and two energy industry firm, Oneok Partners LP, a gas utility, and Schlumberger Limited, which on its website says it is the world's leading provider of technology for reservoir characterization, drilling, production, and processing to the oil and gas industry. 

Bredesen said there is "nothing to apologize about on that list" of  investments, later adding, "there's nothing weird in there."

Bredesen's initial wealth stemmed from his founding of Coventry Health Care, well before he entered Nashville and later Tennessee politics as a candidate. A former mayor, Bredesen estimated his net worth at about $100 million in his first, unsuccessful bid for governor in 1994.

Estimates by Roll Call of senators and representatives' net worth show Bredesen's minimum holdings would put him in the top ten of current members.

Blackburn, meanwhile, ranked No. 473 of the 530 members .

As a relatively unknown businessman in his first unsuccessful bids for public office - Congress and Nashville mayor - during the 1980s, Bredesen largely self funded his campaigns. 

He was later elected mayor, served two terms and in between ran unsuccessfully for governor in a late effort in which he spent personal money as well.

In his 2002 successful bid for governor, Bredesen developed a statewide fundraising network and won, although he did wind up putting about $2 million in personal money into the contest at the end.

"I on occasion funded my own campaigns and on occasion raised money. The difference between the two is I always lost the ones I funded myself and I always won the ones I raised money before," he said, laughing.

In this race, he said, "I'm obviously busy raising money on this one as well. ... I don't plan on putting any money in right now."

"But," he later added, "I would certainly leave it open at the end. I'm spending a year of my life on this and all the work that goes into it and not win over a couple of million dollars at the end of the campaign, then I'd certainly leave that open as a possibility."

He estimated he anticipates needing to raise some $17 million to $20 million from contributors to his campaign and believes independent spending by outside groups on his side could hit $30 million.

And he expects those figures will likely be comparable for Blackburn if she is the GOP nominee as most observers expect.

"It's an absurd number," Bredesen said. "It's crazy.


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