Monday, October 10, 2005

Something About Miers Just Don't Add Up

Some people go into politics as dedicated public servants, sacrificing the more lucrative pay they could otherwise make in the private sector to serve their government. Others postpone their entry into the private sector until after they have served in government, perhaps through design (government connections can indeed prove lucrative), perhaps through necessity (political jobs don't come with tenure).

And others dedicate themselves first to success in the private sector. Such was the case with Harriet Miers. She may be worth merely a paltry $120,000 if the debt she owes on her mortgage, $100,000, is subtracted from the $220,000 in assets she otherwise owns. This includes the vacant lot she owns in Dallas which could be worth a whopping 15 gs (but maybe as little as $1,001).

[Correction: the $220,000 figure includes the mortgage debt]

Her most recent financial disclosure form shows holdings worth between $220,000 and $595,000. Those assets include small stock holdings, a money market fund, several mutual funds and a vacant lot in Dallas worth between $1,001 and $15,000.

That makes her far less affluent than Roberts, who is worth $5.3 million, with sizable stock investments and a home in Chevy Chase, Md., worth $1.3 million.

Miers' latest financial form, for 2004, shows that she owns stock in Comerica Co. and HM Investments in Dallas, an oil and gas outfit. Both investments were listed as worth between $1,001 and $15,000.

Under liabilities, Miers listed a "personal note" from Frost Bank, worth between $50,001 and $100,000.

So this woman is 60 years old, spent two decades as a successful corporate lawyer, but has a net worth smaller than that of most state university professors at an analogous point in their careers? I smell a rat.

While such a financial situation would be at least conceivable for someone who had devoted their entire life to public service, here the case was quite the opposite. Miers spent two decades at a top Dallas law firm, during much of which she was a powerful partner. I would imagine an average mediocre attorney could expect to enter corporate law in Dallas making 60-80 thousand dollars. I'm sure it was somewhat lower during the eighties, but still, adjusting for inflation, it should be roughly equivalent, so if we estimate that Miers earned 100 gs a year in today's dollars, that would total two million dollars over twenty years. Of course, she was a managing partner, so we may safely assume she made much more than that. And she was not married, and without children. What did she do with her dough?

Even assuming she was a generous giver to the church, that would not account for such a massive dissipation of cash. The most likely thing is that Miers made some really bad business decisions (that sounds like someone I know).

However Miers lost her money, the fact that she did raises two concerns with regard to her confirmation 1.) The very fact that it happened would tend to indicate some poor judgement, and 2.) it makes it likelier that, if confirmed, she would feel in debt to the people that put her there. This issue of her net worth should be considered more seriously.

And if Miers makes it to the Court, how is she going to be able to afford a house? A decent house up to minimal Justice standards must cost at least $2 million, but it seems Harry would need a cosigner with such an asset list. Who is the co-signer? James Dobson?