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Kavanaugh Reports Relatively Modest Finances, Debt Repayment

Some of the Supreme Court nominee's potential future colleagues list millions of dollars in investments

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    Kavanaugh Reports Relatively Modest Finances, Debt Repayment
    Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
    Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh listens to Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, on Capitol Hill in Washington, during a meeting Wednesday, July 11, 2018.

    What to Know

    • If confirmed, his relatively modest means would rank Brett Kavanaugh in the lower tier in personal finances among members of the court

    • Some credit card debt listed on his 2016 financial form was due to buying season tickets to the Washington Nationals, the White House said

    • The annual salary in 2018 for a circuit court judge is $220,600, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

    The vetting of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is just beginning, but his public financial disclosures make one thing clear: He's not as wealthy as many already on the high court.

    Public disclosure forms for 2017 show that the federal judge would come to the nation's highest court with only two investments, including a bank account, together worth a maximum of $65,000, along with the balance on a loan of $15,000 or less.

    Separate from the disclosure forms, the White House said that between Kavanaugh's retirement account balance of $400,000 to $500,000, and the equity in his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, he has about an additional million dollars in wealth.

    If confirmed, his relatively modest means would rank Kavanaugh in the lower tier in personal finances among members of court. Some of his potential future colleagues list millions of dollars in investments.

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    The records also showed that Kavanaugh, a federal appellate judge nominated by President Donald Trump to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, had between $45,000 and $150,000 in credit card debt in 2016, which was paid off by the following year.

    In 2016, he also reported a loan balance between $15,000 and $50,000.

    The White House said some of Kavanaugh's credit card debt listed on his 2016 financial form was due to buying season tickets to the Washington Nationals for himself and several friends, but officials stressed that he was reimbursed for the friends' tickets in 2017.

    The White House did not say how much of the debt came from ticket purchases, or name the friends involved in the transactions.

    Other costs on the credit cards included home expenses and "other items."

    The documents do not provide a complete record of Kavanaugh's finances.

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    For example, primary residences — often a person's biggest asset — are not listed. And the value of investments and debts is reported only in wide ranges, as is the amount of debt.

    "At this time, the Kavanaughs have no debts beyond their home mortgage," said White House spokesman Raj Shah.

    The annual salary in 2018 for a circuit court judge is $220,600, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

    A 2017 report from the Center for Public Integrity said that at least six of the nine justices were millionaires, with Justice Stephen Breyer reporting a minimum net worth of $6.15 million in 2016 and Chief Justice John Roberts a minimum reportable net worth of more than $5 million. The report stressed that the disclosures are made in broad ranges, making it hard to know exact figures.

    Regarding Kavanaugh being poorer than the others, many of whom had considerable earnings during years of non-government legal work, Shah said, "He's devoted his life to public service."