WASHINGTON -- When newly minted vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan entered Congress in 1999, he wasn't one of the richest lawmakers, with an average net worth of just $382,865. Ryan's limited -- by congressional standards -- wealth came from his involvement in two investment partnerships and his family's construction business. As of 2011, however, the presumptive Republican vice presidential nominee was worth an average of $4.9 million.
(See explanation for average net worth calculation below.)
The massive increase in Ryan's bottom line didn't come through exploiting his position for personal gain, the way in which most people think congressmen make money. Instead, he made his money the old fashioned way: he married into it.
In 2000, Ryan married Janna Little, a former congressional staffer turned Washington lobbyist who hails from a wealthy family of Oklahoma trial lawyers that is also related to the state's Boren political dynasty. Ryan's 2000 financial disclosure reflects the newlyweds' joining of assets. Ryan's average net worth increased from $345,007 to $1.186 million.
Despite a dip in their net worth in the two years after their marriage, the Ryans' value ran just below the $2 million mark until 2011, when Janna Ryan's mother, Prudence Little, passed away after a long battle with cancer. Janna Ryan received a one-third interest in the Prudence Little Living Trust, which the Ryans list as being worth between $1 million and $5 million. The trust is listed as a blind trust and was approved by the House Ethics Committee.
Ryan's average net worth was calculated by adding assets and subtracting liabilities listed in Ryan's annual financial disclosure forms, accessed at the website of the Center for Responsive Politics. Congressmen are required to file annual personal financial disclosure reports listing their assets, liabilities and financial transactions, including those of their spouse and dependent children. Since assets and liabilities are listed in dollar ranges, it is impossible to calculate a solid number for total net worth aside from an annual average.
Ryan's personal assets differ in type from those of his wife. Paul Ryan holds most of his wealth in stocks of Fortune 500 companies and a few funds. Janna Ryan's wealth -- aside from the Prudence Little Living Trust -- is held in a variety of investment funds, bank accounts and partial ownership of rights to oil, gravel, mining and timber interests.
Janna Ryan's interests in mineral rights include involvement in a partnership with Ava O Limited Company, Blondie & Brown, LLC and the Little Land Company, all located in Madill, Okla., and Red River Pine Limited Company. These assets make up a decent portion of the Ryans' net worth, as they are valued at a minimum of $350,005 and a maximum of $800,000.
Rep. Ryan owns stock through two partnerships, Ryan-Hutter Investment Partnership and Ryan Limited Partnership. According to Ryan's financial disclosure for 2011, these partnerships owned stock in big companies like Apple, Exxon Mobil, General Electric, IBM, Kraft, Nike, Phillip Morris, Starbucks and Whole Foods. His biggest stock holding is in Home Depot at a minimum of $100,001 and a maximum of $250,000.
Ryan's partnerships routinely trade stocks, although not as often as some members of Congress.
A series of trades of bank stocks at the height of the 2008 financial collapse raised suspicions that he might have traded based on inside information. The blog The Richmonder pointed to numerous trades of stock in banks tied to the financial crisis, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wachovia, Citigroup and Wells Fargo on September 18, the same day that Ryan and a select group of congressmen met with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, when they were informed that the entire global financial system could collapse within days.
These suspicions, however, are unfounded. The Paulson meeting took place at night after the markets had closed, meaning that the stock trades had been made prior to the dire warning delivered to Ryan and other congressmen.
Further, Ryan had been selling, buying and exchanging stocks far more than usual all year, and not just bank stocks. Some of these trades -- as noted by University of California, Berkeley, economics professor Brad DeLong in his refutation of the insider trading speculation -- were not the smartest trades, either.
DeLong examined Ryan's "part-time" trading strategy, determining that "his portfolio strategy underperforms the market by 2.5 percent/year."
The Romney campaign also told Talking Points Memo that the stocks were held as part of a Russell 1000 index fund that trades based on algorithms.
The Ryans' purchased a six-bedroom house in 2010 and took out a mortgage of between $100,001 and $250,000.
"Throughout his life, Mitt Romney has made great decisions, and choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate is a truly inspired choice. I got to know Paul during my Senate campaign when he endorsed me early on when I was still considered a long shot. Paul Ryan is a courageous reformer who understands our nation's challenges, has proposed bold policy solutions to solve them, and has shown the courage to stand up to President Obama and other Washington politicians trying to tear him down. "The Romney-Ryan ticket is going to win in November because it offers the American people visionary leadership to recapture the free enterprise spirit that has empowered countless Americans to build businesses from scratch and live the American dream. I'm excited about the visionary change a Romney-Ryan team will bring to Washington, and I look forward to campaigning
<blockquote> "Mitt Romney has made a great choice in Paul Ryan. He is an accomplished public servant and a leading voice on the most pressing issues facing our country. Paul is one of my best friends in Congress and someone I have worked closely with as a former colleague on the House Ways & Means Committee. "Jane and I wish Paul and Janna and their kids the very best. As the Chairman of the Romney campaign in Ohio, I look forward to working with Paul to ensure that the Romney-Ryan ticket carries Ohio and is victorious in November. Most importantly, as a member of the Senate, I look forward to working closely with a Romney-Ryan Administration to restore fiscal sanity and enact pro-growth policies to create jobs."</blockquote>
Obama for American Campaign Manager Jim Messina
<blockquote>"In naming Congressman Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney has chosen a leader of the House Republicans who shares his commitment to the flawed theory that new budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy, while placing greater burdens on the middle class and seniors, will somehow deliver a stronger economy. The architect of the radical Republican House budget, Ryan, like Romney, proposed an additional $250,000 tax cut for millionaires, and deep cuts in education from Head Start to college aid. His plan also would end Medicare as we know it by turning it into a voucher system, shifting thousands of dollars in health care costs to seniors. As a member of Congress, Ryan rubber-stamped the reckless Bush economic policies that exploded our deficit and crashed our economy. Now the Romney-Ryan ticket would take us back by repeating the same, catastrophic mistakes."</blockquote>
Rachel Maddow MSNBC
Charles M. Blow
Progressive Change Campaign Committee
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee issued the following statement: <blockquote>"Paul Ryan is a right-wing extremist who wants to end Medicare. This is a major unforced error by Mitt Romney. It gives President Obama and Democrats a chance to draw a clear contrast in 2012 by promising not to cut one penny from Medicare or Social Security benefits. If Democrats win in a landslide, this was the game changer." -- Adam Green, co-founder, Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a 1 million member grassroots organization</blockquote>
Susan B. Anthony List
The national pro-life organization released the following statement: <blockquote>"By selecting Congressman Ryan as his vice presidential running mate, Governor Romney demonstrates his commitment to protecting American women and unborn children," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List. "A longtime pro-life advocate and a strong fiscal conservative, Congressman Ryan has insisted that there can be no 'truce' when it comes to advancing the rights of the unborn and achieving fiscal responsibility. He has a pristine pro-life voting record and will be an asset to Governor Romney's campaign. "Pro-life voters are a key demographic and help secure victory in critical elections," continued Dannenfelser. "The addition of a second strong pro-life leader to the ticket energizes the pro-life base - we are thrilled with this pick."</blockquote>
<blockquote>"The selection of Paul Ryan is a bold and inspired pick," said Jimmy LaSalvia, Executive Director of GOProud. "Paul Ryan has been the architect of policies that would benefit all Americans, especially gay Americans." "Paul Ryan is one of the few political leaders anywhere in the country willing to tell the American people the truth about the unprecedented budget crisis we are facing, and - more importantly - willing to put forward bold plans to put this country back on the road to fiscal solvency," continued LaSalvia.</blockquote>
Log Cabin Republicans
<blockquote>"Congressman Paul Ryan is a strong choice for vice president, and his addition to the GOP ticket will help Republican candidates up and down the ballot," said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. "As chairman of the House Budget Committee and author of the Republican "path to prosperity" that provided the blueprint for serious spending cuts in this Congress, nobody is more qualified to articulate a conservative economic vision to restore the American economy and stimulate job creation. </blockquote>
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Center For American Progress President Neera Tanden
<blockquote>"Just like Sen. John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin and George H.W. Bush's selection of Dan Quayle, Mitt Romney has been cowed by the right wing into choosing an extreme vice presidential nominee who will alienate moderate voters. It's now clearer than ever that as president, Mitt Romney would end Medicare as we know it, and will raise taxes on middle class families by more than $2,000in order to slash taxes on the wealthiest Americans. While there is a lot that can be said about Paul Ryan's extreme views, more important is what this choice says about Mitt Romney: that he is unwilling or unable to stand up to the far-right of his party and select a vice-presidential candidate that is both able to be president on day one and capable of governing by reaching across the aisle."</blockquote>
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry
<blockquote>"If there were ever any doubt that Mitt Romney is not on the side of working people, today's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan as a running mate makes it crystal clear. With this choice, Romney has shown the American people that he believes Rep. Ryan's extremist, irresponsible and anti-worker agenda is what's right for our country. "Rep. Ryan has made a name for himself by fighting in the halls of Congress for tax giveaways for the wealthy and big corporations while proposing to gut vital services like Medicare and education, and eliminating any sense of retirement security for working families. His no-holds barred record of attacking seniors, children, and working men and women is frightening for the 99 percent of Americans who are not rich -- but for Mitt Romney it was a calling card to choose him as a running mate."
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan
<blockquote>"Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Ryan as his running mate reminds us of why elections matter when it comes to our ability to make personal and private medical decisions," Keenan continued. "The outcome of the 2012 presidential election very well could determine whether abortion remains legal and accessible for the next generation of American women. Romney has pledged that taking away women's rights will be a priority for him and his choice of Ryan amplifies that promise to the extreme anti-choice backers of this ticket. My organization's priority is to make sure President Obama remains in the White House."</blockquote>
Rep. Kathy Hochul
<blockquote>"Americans deserve new ideas for how we can reduce the debt and protect our seniors and the middle class. Just one year ago, Western New York voters rejected the Ryan-Collins policies that would end Medicare as we know it and hurt middle class families while giving more tax cuts to the rich. Our country needs to move forward, not re-hash failed ideas. Given Chris Collins' ongoing support for tax cuts for the rich that add nearly $1 trillion to the deficit and his willingness to send his business to China to line his pockets, it is clear my opponent is going to continue to pursue policies and priorities that have already been rejected."</blockquote>
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Chris Van Hollen
Rep. Mary Bono Mack
Rep. Trent Franks
<blockquote>"Now that Paul Ryan's personal ambition has clearly trumped his interest in the First District, I have no doubt he'll find himself out of a job come November. Once Wisconsinites and voters across our country learn the truth about Ryan's radical plot to end Medicare as we know it, de-fund women's health care, and preserve tax breaks for millionaires, they'll vote against him not just once, but twice. In the coming weeks, our campaign will work with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to continue getting the word out on Ryan's indefensible record, and building momentum to ensure victory on Election Day."</blockquote>
<blockquote>"Governor Mitt Romney made a bold and reform-minded selection in Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. This election has to be about who is going to look out for the next generation. America needs a comeback team to turn around the economy and to turn around the fiscal status of our country. Romney and Ryan have the ideas and the experience needed to take on these core issues. This is a great day for Wisconsin and an even greater day for America."</blockquote>