Who is City Hall's filthy-richest elected official? Tim Burgess, the onetime cop-turned-consultant, now a first-term City Council member, is the easy winner. His latest personal finance disclosure form pegs him as a multi-millionaire, and he groaned a little when told he'd won the big-money cup for 2009.
Then again, "I don't have any problem revealing my finances," says Burgess, a onetime member of the city's Ethics and Elections Commission, which oversees the disclosure reporting. "Comes with the job." After all, he says, it took him 24 years to get rich in the marketing/consulting field, forming a company called the Domain Group.
And maybe we're the ones who should be groaning: In addition to his $113,587 council pay, Burgess made $100,000 on the side last year, and "I didn't do anything for it," he says with a slight laugh. He sold off Domain a few years back, creating Merkle/Domain (now Merkle Inc.), a Seattle marketing firm; he eventually departed with a non-compete clause that paid him $100,000 in 2008, the final year of the deal.He still has a piece of a related business, Domain International of London. His cut is worth at least $20,000, according to his filing. "Basically it raises money for non-profits," says Burgess, but he reports no income from it. Clients include Marie Curie Cancer Care and the National Autistic Society, both of London.
Burgess has assets worth at least $2 million, but disclosure forms do not require precise numbers; it could be as much as $3 million, or more. Public officials are allowed to low-ball their reported incomes, assets and investments using a state-approved code. If the value of a stock, for example, is between $1 to $3,999, officials can enter an A on the form; if it's $4,000 to $19,999, they enter B, and so on, up to E: "$100,000 or more." Burgess has entered 14 E's on his form for the values of such assets as bonds, mutual funds, and a trust.
The next-wealthiest top elected pol appears to be Mayor Greg Nickels, with assets and investments of $720,000. (Officials' personal homes are not included in the assets figure; also, some officials reported figures that others did not, such as spouse's income). The mayor is followed by council member Bruce Harrell ($640,000), although Harrell and his spouse, a Microsoft manager, own three homes and may be worth considerably more. At the bottom is council member Nick Licata ($10,000), who reported a steep decline in holdings. "My investments took a real big hit," he says. He also cashed in some to buy a home. "I own a house," Licata says brightly, "for the first time in my life."
Here's a rundown, compiled by Seattle Weekly from F-1 financial statements:
City Council (salary $103,878 to 113,587, depending on year elected)
Tim Burgess, spouse Joleen Burgess; own Queen Anne home; in addition to his council pay, earned $100,000 from Merkle Inc. in "non-compete" payments; minimum $2 million in other assets and investments.
Sally Clark, partner Elizabeth Ford, King County labor relations manager; own Seward Park home; minimum $165,000 in other assets and investments.
Richard Conlin, spouse Sue Ann Allen, training director, Dispute Resolution Center; own Madrona home; minimum $140,000 in other assets and investments.
Jan Drago, spouse Noel Drago, operates Drago Associates, an apparel brokerage; own downtown condo and Bellevue rental home; in addition to her council pay, they earn a minimum $90,000 in rental income and retirement pay; minimum $370,000 in other assets and investments.
Jean Godden; owns two Whatcom County properties; in addition to council pay, earns minimum $20,000 in Social Security and minimum $4,000 each from Seattle Times and Seattle P-I retirements; minimum $320,000 in other assets and investments.
Bruce Harrell, spouse Joanne Harrell, a Microsoft manager; own three homes, in Mt. Baker, Rainier Valley, and Bellevue; in addition to his council pay, she earns a minimum $100,000 from Microsoft and a minimum $60,000 as a member of the boards of REI and AAA of Washington; minimum $640,000 in other assets and investments.
Nick Licata, spouse Andrea Okomski, an attorney; own home in Greenwood; minimum $10,000 in other assets and investments.
Richard McIver, spouse Marlaina Kiner-McIver; own two homes, near Seward Park and in Texas; earn $4,000 or more from the Texas rental; minimum $200,000 in other assets and investments.
Tom Rasmussen; owns a duplex on Queen Anne; in addition to council pay, earns minimum $20,000 from rental income; minimum $320,000 in other assets and investments.
City Attorney ($141,754)
Tom Carr, spouse Theresa Szeliga, a Boeing manager; own West Seattle home; she earns minimum $100,000 and also runs consulting agency specializing in business ethics and compliance programs ( plus offers kiddie ski lessons as well); minimum $470,000 in other assets and investments.
Greg Nickels, spouse Sharon Nickels, employed by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, makes minimum $40,000; own two homes in West Seattle; minimum $720,000 in other assets and investments; (notice to 2009 mayoral candidates: has hefty investments in several retirement plans).