Montana’s U.S. House campaign a race of the rich

Millionaire versus millionaire: A look at the financial reports
2010-10-26T20:32:00Z 2010-10-27T14:47:16Z Montana’s U.S. House campaign a race of the richCHARLES S. JOHNSON Gazette State Bureau The Billings Gazette
October 26, 2010 8:32 pm  • 

HELENA — It’s millionaire versus millionaire in the race for Montana’s House seat between Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg and Democrat Dennis McDonald.

Rehberg and his wife, Jan, are worth between $12.2 million and $57.6 million, based on his personal financial disclosure statement for calendar 2009 filed with the U.S. House in June. The report listed assets that are jointly held, those held solely by Jan Rehberg and some held for their dependent children.

McDonald and his wife, Sharon, meanwhile, listed their worth at between $7.4 million and $33 million, according his personal financial report statement filed with House in May. McDonald’s covers the period from Jan. 1, 2009, to April 30, 2010.

“My value of assets depends on the value of a cow on any given day at the Billings auction yards,” McDonald said Tuesday.

Rehberg declined comment.

(Note: the ranges are wide because the House forms provide wide ranges between the lows and highs in investments and income.)

Rehberg reported liabilities ranging from $1.3 million and $5.6 million. When the liabilities are deducted, it reduces their net worth to between about $10.9 million and nearly $52 million.

Rehberg’s income from these investments was between about $35,600 and nearly $119,000 in 2009, the report showed. It does not include his congressional salary.

As for McDonald, he listed liabilities of between about$150,000 and $350,000. When the liabilities are deducted from his assets, his net worth is between about $7.25 million and $32.65 million.

McDonald listed his income being between $96,307 and nearly $258,000.

It’s becoming “more and more common” for wealthy candidates to face off against each other in congressional races, said David Parker, a Montana State University political science professor.

“One of the things that parties look for in recruiting is self-funded candidates,” he said.

In recruiting congressional candidates, “the best are experienced and wealthy,” Parker said. “The next best is someone who’s wealthy who can be known better fast. It doesn’t mean they will win.”

Rehberg, a five-term incumbent, has not put any of his money into this campaign, while McDonald has put about $60,800 of his own money into the race through donations or loans.

For calendar year 2008, Rehberg was the 14th-wealthiest member of the House, with a net worth ranging from about $6.6 million and nearly $56.2 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group in Washington, D.C.

Rehberg’s largest holdings are: Rehberg Ranch LLC, ranching and development land in Billings, and Rehberg Ranch Land and Livestock LLC of Billings, agricultural land and ranching operations. He valued each of these two companies at between $5 million and $25 million.

The disclosure noted that Rehberg Ranch has a pending reappraisal because of fire damage and the real estate downturn.

The next largest asset is Rehberg Ranch Marketing Inc. of Billings, which sells land. It is valued at $1 million and $5 million.

He has two rental properties in the Billings area.

Rehberg’s liabilities are to the Stockman Bank for between $1 million and $5 million as a loan guarantor and for between $250,000 and $500,000 for a construction loan and rental property. He also has a line of credit for $50,000 to $100,000 with the Western Bank.

McDonald’s largest asset is his Open Spear Ranch near Melville, which he valued at between $5 million and $25 million. It is listed as a family partnership.

He also owns rental homes in Stevensville, Townsend, Hayward, Calif., and Castro Valley, Calif. The latter property is valued at between $500,000 and $1 million.

McDonald has liabilities of between $150,000 and $350,000. He owes between $50,000 and $100,000 on the Townsend home and between $100,000 and $250,000 on the Castro Valley home.

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