- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a prominent politician of relatively modest net worth.
- He holds no stocks or owns any property and still has student loans.
- He’s often compared to Trump, but his finances are completely different.
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Former President Donald Trump’s investments are exotic, impenetrable and monumental.
But the finances of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is billed as Trump’s main rival for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, are conservative, straight and dull.
43-year-old DeSantis’ net worth is $318,986.99, according to a financial disclosure he filed with the state elections commission last week.
He does not trade stocks, still has $21,284.92 in student loans and owns no property.
Compare that to Trump, who turned 76 on Tuesday and was probably the wealthiest man to have ever lived in the White House after overseeing a vast real estate empire that included golf courses, condos and opulent private clubs under the privately owned umbrella Trump Organization comprised .
Forbes estimates Trump’s net worth at $3 billion, with Trump himself putting the figure at $10 billion. It’s a big debate as Trump famously refused to release his tax returns, which would reveal his annual income (although some of the documents have been leaked to the New York Times).
DeSantis is up for re-election in Florida and has not yet said he will run for president. He tends to dismiss questions when asked.
But Trump is keeping a close eye on the governor as the former president keeps hinting he will run again. Political insiders believe DeSantis will run because he has raised a tremendous amount of campaign money and has not been afraid to get involved in high-profile fights against the Biden administration.
DeSanti is less wealthy than many prominent politicians
Some politicians like to emphasize their lack of relative wealth as a positive trait. President Joe Biden once called himself the “poorest man in Congress” when he was vice president to show that he understood people’s financial problems. (Today, he’s worth $9 million, Forbes estimates.)
Raised by working-class parents, DeSantis attended Ivy League schools before enlisting in the Navy. He hasn’t said much about his money, but personally appears to own fewer dollars than anyone running for Florida governor.
Democratic Gov. Charlie Crist, 65, has a net worth of nearly $2 million, his financial statements show. The other Democratic challenger, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, 44, filed a disclosure with the state Elections Department Tuesday but it has not yet been released, her campaign said. According to The Capitalist, she listed her 2020 net worth at $970,244.
Senator Rick Scott, who was governor shortly before DeSantis, is the wealthiest person in Congress. Before entering politics, Scott co-founded two healthcare companies and worked as a venture capitalist.
DeSantis’ finances are down from where they were in 2020, when he reported a net worth of $348,832. The change can be attributed to the market downturn, which led to cuts in its USAA checking and savings account and savings plan, which is a type of retirement and investment plan, the governor’s office confirmed.
In his financial statements, DeSantis writes that his only income for 2021 was the $134,181 he earned as governor. The salary represents a cut from the $174,000 he earned when he was a member of the US House of Representatives, representing Florida’s 6th District, from 2013 to 2018.
At the time, DeSantis didn’t have a separate home in Washington, DC, instead sleeping on a couch in his congressional office and showering in the on-site gym.
Today, DeSantis lives in the governor’s mansion and owns no property after selling his home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., for $460,000 in March 2019, according to The Associated Press. The DeSantises transferred the proceeds from the home to the USAA account.
In 2021, DeSantis continued to pay off his Sallie Mae student loan. The balance fell from $22,225 at the end of 2020 to $21,285 as of December 31. DeSantis received a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University and a law degree from Harvard University.
DeSantis has criticized Biden’s forthcoming plans to have the government pay off some student loan debt, saying taxpayers shouldn’t have to shoulder the burden. Instead, he prefers to hold colleges accountable for their high prices, he said at numerous public events.
DeSantis doesn’t own individual shares, his gubernatorial filings show, although an annual report he filed in Congress in 2018 shows he held two shares in Sirius XM and the United States Steel Corporation, each valued at between $1,000 and $15,000 . According to an insider review of his past financial documents, he did not buy or sell the shares during his time in Congress.
DeSantis could still get rich
The financial disclosures released by DeSantis are similar to those of many Americans.
“We want our elected officials to be in touch with the struggles that everyday people go through,” said Ben Wilcox, director of research at Integrity Florida, a nonpartisan research group on transparency and anti-corruption. “It seems more and more that we are electing a wealthy, elite candidate for positions of power.”
But, Wilcox added, some politicians who have tremendous wealth can still pursue strong policies designed to help working people.
As Florida’s CEO, DeSantis is a tax conservative. He recently vetoed a proposed $3.1 billion spending by the Florida Legislature and announced that Florida would have a $20 billion surplus for the next fiscal year.
DeSantis is still a rising star in politics and could become enormously wealthy in the future even if he stays in politics.
One way politicians make their fortunes is by making huge book deals. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, for example, landed a $730,350 book deal last year.
DeSantis reported that in 2012 he received some royalties for his book, Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama, for a total of $7,834. However, the book was about constitutional law and was not a treatise.
Other politicians use their experience in high-paying lobbying jobs or get high dollar rates for paid speeches.
There are other ways DeSantis could improve his lifestyle. For example, DeSantis raised $124 million for his re-election campaign. This is an initial amount of cash. For comparison, the candidate with the highest raise in the Senate is Democratic Senator Rafael Warnock of Georgia, whose campaign war chest is $73 million.
Florida campaign laws are loose and there are few restrictions on how that money can be used, Wilcox said. Some of this money could be used for personal expenses billed as “consultation” or “travel”. Citing a hypothetical scenario, Wilcox said DeSantis could, for example, pay his wife to get counseling on the campaign, thereby increasing her net worth. The rules would become stricter if DeSantis wanted to seek federal office.
“If he wanted to try to increase his personal fortune through his political committee, he could do that,” Wilcox said, “but I have no evidence that he did any of those things.”