Trump Isn’t America’s Only Billionaire Politician — Meet The Others

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When Donald Trump took the Oath of Office on Friday, he became America’s first billionaire president. But he isn’t the only billionaire politician in the country.

While most of the ultra-wealthy who go into politics do so with their wallets — giving millions to candidates and super PACs that champion causes they support — these billionaires and members of billion-dollar families have taken more active roles by directly holding elected office:

  • Donald Trump ($3.7 billion), President of the United States:Trump’s upset victory shocked the world in November 2016. Now he’ll settle into the White House as the 45th President of the United States — and the first with a ten-digit fortune. Despite serious concerns about conflicts of interest, Trump refuses to divest himself of the business interests he inherited and built over a five-decade career as a real estate mogul and TV personality, making him America’s wealthiest politician. Instead his two eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, and his longtime CFO, Allen Weisselberg, will control the Trump Organization, which has interests in buildings, golf courses and deals to license the Trump name to properties and products around the globe.
  • Bill Haslam ($2.5 billion), Governor of Tennessee: Before Trump, Haslam was the richest politician in America. He served as the mayor of Knoxville from 2003 until 2011, when he was sworn in as Tennessee’s governor. He was re-elected in 2014. Haslam first got the idea to run for office while on a bike ride with pal Bob Corker (then Chattanooga mayor, now a U.S. senator). Before going into politics, he was president of his family’s chain of truck stops, Pilot Flying J, which his brother, fellow billionaire Jimmy Haslam, runs as CEO. Haslam is a Republican, but he did not endorse Trump and even called for him to bow out of the race in October after audio from 2005 showed Trump bragging about committing sexual assault (Trump dismissed it as “locker room talk”).
  • Jim Justice ($1.6 billion), Governor of West Virginia: Justice became governor of West Virginia on Monday, putting the state’s only billionaire in its governor’s mansion. He switched party affiliation in 2015 (he had been a Republican), but ran as a conservative Democrat and did not support Hillary Clinton. Justice is best known in his home state for rescuing the historic Greenbrier Resort from bankruptcy and giving it a $250 million facelift, transforming it into a 10,000-acre complex with PGA-quality golfing and an underground casino. But the original source of his wealth is coal. He inherited a number of coal businesses from his father and eventually became one of the largest private mine owners in the region. In 2009 he sold his Bluestone Coal Corp. to Russian mining firm Mechel for $550 million in cash and stock; in 2015 he spent $5 million to buy back some of those same mining assets.
  • Pete Ricketts, Governor of Nebraska: The Republican governor is the son of TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, who is worth an estimated $1.9 billion. He has held the office since January 2015. While the Ricketts family initially opposed Trump, they eventually became major donors. In November Trump selected Pete’s brother, Todd Ricketts, to serve as deputy commerce secretary.
  • Mark Dayton, Governor of Minnesota: Dayton, a Democrat, has served as the governor of Minnesota since 2011. He is the great-grandson of George Dayton, who founded the Dayton Dry Goods Company in 1902. It launched Target as a discount subsidiary in 1962; Target is now the fifth-largest retailer in the world. In 2015, Forbes estimated the Dayton family to be worth $1.6 billion.

Then, of course, there is Michael Bloomberg, whose $42.4 billion fortune is estimated to be the world’s tenth-largest. He served as the mayor of New York City for three terms from 2002 to 2013, with the city council voting to change the law to allow him to stay those extra four years. He briefly considered entering the 2016 presidential race.

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