Lawmakers Profit From Gold Mines, Books

Jun 14, 11:31 AM (ET)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Harry Reid, whose leadership post depends on holding onto a fragile majority in the Senate, can always fall back on his gold mining claims in Nevada. Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd pads his income with rent from a cottage in County Galway, Ireland.

House and Senate lawmakers filed their annual financial disclosure forms Thursday, revealing a variety of income sources well beyond their salaries.

Rank-and-file House and Senate members last year received $165,200 in pay. Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., both got $183,500 for their previous roles of minority leaders in the Senate and House.

Former Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., now a regular member, will take a pay cut of almost $47,000 this year after earning $212,100 last year as speaker.

But senators in particular tend to come from the upper echelons of wealth, with many claiming incomes and assets reaching well into the millions.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who is running for president, reported that her husband, former President Clinton, made more than $10 million in paid speeches last year. The couple held two accounts - a regular bank account and a blind trust, each valued at between $5 million and $25 million. The forms don't require Congress members to report exact figures, only to note the ranges their holdings fall within.

Senate Majority Leader Reid, who drew questions about his disclosure form last year over a Las Vegas land deal that allowed him to collect $1.1 million for property he hadn't personally owned in three years, owns portions of more than 200 acres of mining claims, including old claims around his hometown of Searchlight.

His Nevada land holdings and mining claims were valued from $496,000 to $1.39 million.

Dodd, in addition to taking in $5,001-$15,000 for his cottage in Ireland, received a $30,000 book advance for "Letters from Nuremburg." His father was a prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials after World War II.

Several other senators were also involved in book projects: Clinton reported royalties of $350,000 for her book "Living History." Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, received a $16,667 advance for a book he is co-writing on radical Islamic movements in Southeast Asia.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, made $1,462 from sales of her suspense novel, which features a combative, liberal senator much like herself.

Boxer also was paid $737 for playing herself on an episode of the HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Lawmakers cannot make more than 15 percent of their salaries in outside earned income, although book royalties are exempt from that limit.