How D.C. Turned Biden’s Team into Millionaires

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock (11698713d)Attorney General nominee Judge Merrick Garland speaks during an event with President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris at The Queen theater in Wilmington, DelBiden, Wilmington, United States - 07 Jan 2021.
Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock / Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock

Before Democrats swept the special Senate runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5, it was unclear whether GOP Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would simply block President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nominations the way he had blocked Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. That, however, is no longer part of the equation. President Biden will get confirmation hearings for the top leaders of the executive branch. 

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Some of the most powerful and influential leaders in the country, Biden’s Cabinet officials will run enormous departments and agencies with budgets in the billions. Naturally, they — and their finances — will be under intense scrutiny. Special attention is sure to be paid to their financial holdings, wealth, assets, income and business relationships. Several of those who will serve in the president’s inner circle have done very, very well for themselves. 

Jennifer Granholm: Energy Secretary

  • Net worth: $1 million-plus

Celebrity Net Worth lists two-term Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s net worth at $1 million, but it’s likely much, much higher. On Jan. 18, ABC reported on several of Granholm’s investments that are sure to attract close scrutiny, considering her new position. She reported owning, along with her husband, between $4.4 million and $16.8 million in investments, holdings, properties, stocks and other assets, many of which are directly tied to the energy industry.

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Tom Vilsack: Agriculture Secretary

  • Net worth: Undisclosed millions

Tom Vilsack’s exact net worth is unknown, but in 2019, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that he was one of the top-paid dairy executives in the country. If confirmed, Vilsack will be in a familiar position — the former Iowa governor and president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council served as ag secretary under President Obama. He was paid just shy of $1 million a year as recently as 2018, when he was the highest-paid executive at Dairy Management Inc., which counts the U.S. Dairy Export Council as one of its subsidiaries.

Janet Yellen: Treasury Secretary 

  • Net worth: $16 million

Janet Yellen was the first woman ever to chair the Federal Reserve and would be the first woman ever confirmed as Treasury secretary. She’s also the former director of the National Economic Council and a Distinguished Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Like Granholm and Vilsack, the source of her fortune is a bone of contention among many Democrats. She made millions of dollars in speaking fees from the same Wall Street firms and major financial corporations that she’ll be responsible for regulating in her new position. 

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Merrick Garland: Attorney General 

  • Net worth: As much as $25 million 

Longtime D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland became a household name in 2016. That year, Mitch McConnel stonewalled his nomination by Barack Obama to the Supreme Court after Justice Antonin Scalia died. Although updated information is scant, the Center for Public Integrity reported during Garland’s nomination fight that he was worth between $7.6 million and $25 million.

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John Kerry: Special Presidential Climate Envoy 

  • Net worth: $250 million

A fixture in Democratic politics since his activism following his service in the Vietnam War, John Kerry was a longtime senator from Massachusetts. He also served as the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004 and Secretary of State under President Obama. He married into his massive fortune. His wife, Teresa Heinz, inherited hundreds of millions of dollars from her first husband, Sen. John Heinz.

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All net worth information is from CelebrityNetWorth.com unless otherwise noted.

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About the Author

Andrew Lisa has been writing professionally since 2001. An award-winning writer, Andrew was formerly one of the youngest nationally distributed columnists for the largest newspaper syndicate in the country, the Gannett News Service. He worked as the business section editor for amNewYork, the most widely distributed newspaper in Manhattan, and worked as a copy editor for TheStreet.com, a financial publication in the heart of Wall Street's investment community in New York City.

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