August 5, 2008

Kaine, Cantor: Modest to Millions

By David Ress, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Va.

Aug. 5--When they first stepped from their Richmond-area political bases to bigger stages, both of Virginia's would-be vice presidents looked like modest five-figure-a-year lawyers.

Now, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine is probably a millionaire, while Rep. Eric I. Cantor, R-7th, definitely is, a Richmond Times-Dispatch review of financial-disclosure and property records shows.

Those records show that Kaine is worth at least $939,000, and Cantor at least $3.8 million.

"It's never been true that people of average wealth have a shot at high political office," said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.

Kaine and Cantor made their big political leaps at about the same time -- Kaine, then Richmond's mayor, running for lieutenant governor in 2001, while Cantor jumped from the state House of Delegates to Congress in the 2000 election.

At the time, Kaine reported earning more than $50,000 as a lawyer, on top of his $27,000-a-year salary as mayor. Cantor said he was making $67,900 a year from his law firm, while earning $27,300 as a delegate.

But Kaine had in 2000 nailed down a multimillion-dollar settlement of a discrimination lawsuit, a legal victory that would mean millions of dollars for his law firm.

And Cantor's income from his investments that year exceeded $92,000 -- investments that exceeded $1.1 million

Both men started modestly in politics: Kaine elected to the Richmond City Council in 1994 by fewer than 100 votes, and Cantor as a college student intern driving then-Rep. Thomas J. Bliley around in his first re-election campaign for Congress.

Both have stayed with their roots: Kaine still owns the Confederate Avenue house he bought in 1992 for $143,100. It's now assessed at $359,000.

Cantor's seven-bedroom Wyndham home in Henrico County is now worth $951,000. He built it in 1994 on a lot he bought in 1992 for $99,000. He and his wife own a condominium in Arlington County assessed at $627,000, next door to a condo his wife and mother-in-law own that is assessed at $618,000.

In addition to his house on Confederate Avenue, Kaine has at least $580,000 and possibly as much as $2.9 million in investments and savings, according to a disclosure form filed with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. State and federal reporting forms only require disclosure in ranges of values.

Cantor reports investments and bank accounts ranging somewhere between $2.2 million and $7.1 million, which generate income between $148,000 and $396,000 a year, according to a disclosure statement filed with the House of Representatives.

In addition, his wife, Diana, earned $84,460 in money and stock last year as a director of Media General, owner of The Times-Dispatch, and $40,000 as a director of Dominos Pizza Inc., according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Diana Cantor also receives an undisclosed consulting fee from New York Private Bank & Trust.

Cantor's biggest single holding is a partnership interest in Trustmor Mortgage, a mortgage brokerage he founded and in which he now owns a $250,000 to $500,000 stake. It pays him between $15,000 and $50,000 a year in income.

Cantor also lists $100,000 to $250,000 he is owed by a Richmond real estate partnership and a $50,000 to $100,000 IOU from his old Henrico law firm.

Kaine's wealth dates from his time as a partner in a mid-size Richmond firm, where his interest in fair housing and civil rights meant years of working for free or for discounted fees on discrimination and death-row cases.

In 1998, Kaine won a $100 million jury verdict against Nationwide Insurance, which the Virginia Supreme Court later threw out. Kaine negotiated an out-of-court settlement for $17.5 million in 2000, netting his firm some $5.8 million in fees.

Cantor was a lawyer and developer, who with his wife, father, two brothers and two cousins, was involved in several development, mortgage and homebuilding enterprises in the Richmond area.

Both men's experiences making their livings have shaped who they are politically, Sabato said.

"Kaine was a lawyer . . . He's surefooted when it comes to legal issues," he said. "Cantor is confident talking about business because that's what he was."

Neil H. Simon of Media General News Service contributed to this report.


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