Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) is in hot water this week for saying that he’s “struggling” to pay bills on his $174,000 annual taxpayer-funded salary. In the now-infamous video clip, Duffy told attendees at a Polk County, Wisc., town hall meeting that “I guarantee that I have more debt than all of you.”
That may or may not be true, but one thing is certain — Duffy is one of the poorest members of Congress. OpenSecrets.org, which tracks the money in Congress, ranks Duffy as near the bottom among House members when it comes to his personal net worth.Here’s a rundown of Duffy’s finances, from the 2009 disclosure form he had to file with the government: his family of 7 (wife plus six kids) is carrying between $250,000 and $500,000 in mortgage debt; between $50,000-$100,000 in student loans; between $15,000-$50,000 in credit card debt; and between $100,000-$250,000 in debt related to the family vacation home, a cabin not too far from his primary residence in Wisconsin.
The Duffy family lives in a 5-bedroom house sitting on 5 acres in Ashland, Wisconsin. The home has a market value of $247,000. They also own a 2-bedroom cabin in Iron River. That house is valued at $229,000.
Duffy’s household reported a total of $154,500 in income in 2009. That included $94,000 in salary from his job back then as county district attorney and $4,500 in income from his side gig as a competitive lumberjack. Duffy’s wife, Rachel Campos-Duffy — who like her husband starred in MTV’s The Real World — brought in $56,000 in salary.
View the entire 2009 financial disclosure form here.
The $154,000 in income in they reported in 2009 made Duffy’s family objectively well-off when it comes to a family from Wisconsin. Median household income there in 2008 was $52,103, according to the Census.
But in Congress, that kind of coin makes Duffy one of the poorest. Check out this chart from OpenSecrets comparing Duffy’s finances to the congressional average:
Earlier this month, the site did a big report on the freshman House class, which is among the wealthiest ever to be elected. Duffy was among the “several freshmen who, however, have little reportable wealth at all,” OpenSecrets wrote.
Duffy’s also tried to paint himself as one of the more austere members of the freshman class. He’s one of around 20 members who sleep in their Hill offices rather than pay for a residence in Washington.
Nevertheless, the video of Duffy talking about his salary has left him vulnerable to attacks that he’s whining about money while he makes so much more than those who he represents. Democrats in Wisconsin put out a mock flyer for a “food and clothing drive for poor Sean Duffy.” On the list of requested donations: “french-cuffed shirts”; “oyster spoons” and “last year’s Bulgari, Givenchy and Versace.”
The Duffys do a live a life that’s probably pretty different from most of the people Duffy represents in Congress. Here’s a taste (literally) of that lifestyle, from a video Campos-Duffy once posted to the AOL ParentDish site. The clip is no longer on the AOL site but was obtained by TPM:
Get the day’s best political analysis, news and reporting from the TPM team delivered to your inbox every day with DayBreaker. Sign up here, it takes just a few seconds.