How rich is Jon Huntsman Jr.?
We'll find out in just a few weeks: All Presidential candidates are required to file an updated financial disclosure within 30 days of announcing their candidacy.
Until then, we can expect to see competing reports of Huntsman's personal finances and what it could mean for a 2012 Presidential campaign.
Right now, headlines vary from "Huntsman brings deep pockets to 2012 race" to "Huntsman's got cash, but not near as much as some". The former, a CNN report, estimates Huntsman's assets to be between $17.8 million and $84 million; the Salt Lake Tribune reports a slightly lower range of $11 million to $74 million. (Incidentally, both cite the same source - a 2009 personal financial disclosure.)
In May, the Wall Street Journal published a blog article regarding Huntsman's decision not to self-fund a 2012 presidential bid, pointing out that "Mr. Hunstman's personal wealth is not all that clear. Most of the family fortune is still in his father's possession, and campaign finance laws and gift tax laws would have created hurdles for large sums of money to pass from father to son."
Huntsman later stepped back from his assurance that he would not bankroll the campaign himself or with family money, admitting to the Salt Lake Tribune that he had in fact put in a bit of "seed money" himself. "I put in a little bit to prime the pump," the former Utah governor told the paper.
The Huntsman family fortune is by way of Huntsman Corp., a multi-billion dollar chemical manufacturer that has landed its founder and the candidate's father, Jon Huntsman Sr., on the Forbes billionaire list. The senior Huntsman is responsible for the design of the original plastic egg carton while an employee at Olson Brothers, Inc.
Even if Huntsman could sidestep some of the hurdles preventing family campaign financing, he may not be the chosen candidate.
In 2008, Huntsman's extended family gave almost twice as much to Democrats as Republicans. According to a Deseret News analysis of Federal Election Commission records, Huntsman, Jr.'s father and mother each gave $40,400 to Democrats during the 2008 election cycle. Overall, his extended family gave $160,800 Democrats and $87,600 to Republicans.
Mitt Romney, Hunstman's strongest competition for the Republican presidential bid, is worth over $200 million.
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