Bingaman's Senate Career Shows How to Get Rich in Public Service

From -Jeff Bingaman, the five-term Democratic senator from New Mexico, entered "legacy time" Tuesday. That's the traditional home stretch when conniving politicians magically morph into noble statesmen just before they retire. That should come as no surprise to anyone who's read Bingaman's financial disclosure reports. They show a man who entered the Senate in 1983 considerably less than a millionaire, inherited a Texaco oil and gas well in Gregg County, Texas, worth all of $15,000, and yet is retiring with investments worth $7 million to $20 million, and possibly as much as $50 million. The range is so wide because federal disclosure law frustratingly requires reporting investments only in nearly meaningless categories, like $6 million to $25 million, hiding even the approximate value of any asset or debt. Last year, Roll Call ranked Bingaman 40th richest of the 535 members of Congress and remarked that the investment portfolio of the senator and his wife, Anne, was unusually active, "racking up nearly 600 separate purchases and sales of stock in 2009, worth a combined total of more than $20 million" -- not counting their book of untraded stocks. More News New Mexico


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