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GOP VP Finances: From Under Water to Billionaire

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney picks his running mate, odds are he'll select someone with far less wealth than his own. Unless he chooses Meg Whitman, one of the richest women in America.

Meg Whitman, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan
Tony Avelar| Bloomberg | Stan Honda | AFP | Getty Images
Meg Whitman, Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan

Romney's latest financial disclosure report, showing a fortune of nearly $250 million, hardly compares to the Hewlett-Packard CEO's $1.4 billion — a figure compiled by Forbes in its list of the richest 400 Americans.

Some of the potential Republican vice presidential nominees are grappling with the same financial issues as many of their countrymen.

— In 2010, Deutsche Bank began foreclosure proceedings against Marco Rubio of Florida while he was successfully running for the Senate. Rubio, who had been the state House speaker, co-owned a Tallahassee home with another state lawmaker and the two failed to pay the full mortgage for five months. Rubio said the missed payments resulted from a dispute over the mortgage terms, and the matter was resolved with a payment of more than $9,500.

Rubio's personal residence in Miami is under water, with his loan amount of $250,001-$500,000 is greater than the home's value, according to spokesman Alex Conant.

—Tax records show that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haleyrepeatedly paid fines for not paying her income taxes on time. From 2005-2009, Haley and her husband paid $4,500 in penalties on late federal taxes owed. Their 2010 returns were the first in years that the Haleys filed on time and without late penalties.

—Several hopefuls are confronting college costs for their young children. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Rubio have opened college savings accounts.

—If Romney chooses Rubio and the Republicans win in November, Rubio may become the only vice president to still be paying off a college loan. His latest financial disclosure report said he owes lender Sallie Mae $100,001-$250,000.

The Associated Press reviewed financial disclosure reports and other publicly available data to obtain information about the finances of possible Republican vice presidential choices. Some have made their tax returns available. The financial information that states require from officials and office seekers varies widely, and generally is less revealing than federal reports — which require ranges of assets, income and liabilities.

Annual congressional financial disclosure reports were made public Thursday, listing ranges of assets and liabilities.

Information was obtained on Govs. Bob McDonnell of Virginia; Haley; Jindal; Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Susana Martinez of New Mexico, as well as Pawlenty, who ran for president but dropped out last August.

The latest and past financial data also were examined for the following members of Congress: Ryan; Thune; Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio; Ayotte and Rubio. All, in addition to Whitman, have been mentioned as possible running mates for Romney.

One of the wealthier hopefuls is Portman, a former White House budget director and U.S. trade representative. He has two investments — each worth between $1,000,001 and $5 million. One is a money market fund and the other is a family-owned corporation that owns a combined inn and restaurant in Lebanon, Ohio, commercial properties and vacant land.

Two other investments are each valued between $500,001 and $1 million: a money market fund, and an index mutual fund. Two other mutual funds are each worth between $250,001 and $500,000, both accounts for his children.

Contrast that with Martinez, whose disclosure form is almost blank. She earns $110,000 a year as New Mexico's governor and lists no other sources of income except her husband's retirement money from the state.

Haley and her husband earned $367,000 in 2011, her freshman year as governor, but $200,000 of that was from a partial advance on her memoir, according to tax returns she allowed reporters to view.

Haley wasn't the only potential VP pick with a book deal. Pawlenty received $342,000. Jindal reported income from his book over two years. He earned between $50,000 and $99,999 in 2009 and the same amount in 2010. Daniels, the Indiana governor, also wrote a book but was not required to list his earnings from it. Ryan earned royalties of $2,501 to $5,000, which he said were used for "approved expenses and charitable donations."

Pawlenty, who filed a federal disclosure form during his brief run for president last year, had to earn his way through college. His August 2011 filing shows he's doing much better now. The last year of his gubernatorial salary, his book advance and income from speeches — most of them for $24,000 — pushed his income to more than $705,000 over a period covering 2010 through mid-August 2011.

A wild card in terms of wealth is Daniels. The onetime Eli Lilly executive and former head of the White House budget office has many of his investments in a blind trust. He did identify 22 mutual funds he owns, held by a partnership, and another 20 in his retirement accounts. Indiana does not require filers to list the value of their holdings.

If Romney wants a woman on the ticket, he also could turn to freshman Sen. Ayotte. She has just a year-and-a-half of Senate experience but was New Hampshire's attorney general for six years. Ayotte helped her husband, who flew combat missions in Iraq, start a landscaping and snow removal business, and a number of their assets are under his name.

She listed a jointly held checking account with between $100,001 and $250,000 and a Nashua condominium with the same valuation, which earns $5,001 to $15,000 in rent. The couple is paying two home loans, one valued between $250,001 and $500,000; the second between $100,001 and $250,000.

Sometimes, financial situations aren't what they seem.

Whitman who lost the 2010 California governor's race by nearly 13 percentage points, will receive a salary at Hewlett-Packard of $1 a year. But she has a $16.5 million compensation package that depends on the HP stock's performance over two years. Whitman, who became famous in the corporate world when she ran the buy-and-sell site eBay, began her business career at Bain Capital under the wing of Romney.

She spent nearly $175 million of her own money in her losing campaign for governor. But after the loss, she donated $10 million to the teacher training group Teach For America and invested another $2.5 million in new charter schools. She also donated $500,000 to Los Angeles schools for math education.

If Romney chooses Whitman, Democrats could create the image of a millionaire (Romney) and a billionaire (Whitman) comprising a ticket whose wealth bears little resemblance to that of millions of struggling Americans.

But if Romney wants a running mate whose assets are closer to many voters, he could choose Thune. The largest investments for the South Dakota senator and his wife are a mutual fund and a money market account, each worth between $50,001 and $100,000. He and his wife have three other investments, each valued between $15,001 and $50,000. One is a college fund.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Mandel Ngan | Getty Images
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

Some of Romney's potential choices have spouses with high salaries. The wife of New Jersey Gov. Christie is a vice president at investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald, earning between $250,000 and $500,000 a year. Christie owns property in his state worth more than a half million dollars. He and his wife each have a blind trust.

The wife of Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman, has investments in mining, gravel rights, mineral rights and timber. She also has a one-third interest in her late mother's trust, valued between $1,000,001 and $5 million. She reported distributions from the trust of $100,001 to $1 million.

McDonnell, of Virginia, receives between $50,001 and $250,000 for each of his two rental homes in the resort town of Virginia Beach and $50,000 or less from a third rental property in Wintergreen, Va.

Louisiana ethics rules do not require disclosure of the value of mutual funds, exempting Jindal from listing his holdings. The form does require a listing of income, and Jindal lists three mutual funds. Each one produced income between $5,000 and $24,999 in 2011.

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