Bureaucrats don't live on taxpayer funds alone.
The next time you rent a house, order a burger, or make a long-distance phone call, you may be supplementing the incomes of federal financial regulators.
Public financial disclosure reports reveal at least nine of 13 top regulators, including members of the Federal Reserve Board and directors of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., are millionaires, courtesy of outside investments.
Together, the filings show, they hold millions of dollars in stocks such as McDonald's Corp. and AT&T, Treasury Department bonds, mutual funds, real estate partnerships, and book royalties.
The richest financial regulator is Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Arthur Levitt, whose worth may exceed the other 12 regulators combined. The former American Stock Exchange chief and his wife in 1996 reported assets valued between $21.2 million and $91 million.
Included in their 13-page list of assets were holdings in 15 investment funds worth between $1 million and $5 million, real estate investments, oil leases, and more than $1 million in stock options in First Empire State Corp. that Mr. Levitt received as a former director.
He and his wife earned between $1.6 million and $11.2 million last year from their investments.
Precise asset and income figures are unavailable because only broad dollar ranges-such as $1,001 to $15,000 or $500,001 to $1 million - are required on the disclosure reports.
To prevent conflicts of interest, government officials and their spouses must report assets worth more than $1,000 and income from those assets, as well as any fees above $200. Public figures are not required to report the value of their primary residence.
Though their government salaries are not on the reports, regulators' pay ranges from $115,700 for an FDIC director to $133,600 for Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan.
Comptroller of the Currency Eugene A. Ludwig may be the second- wealthiest in the group. He and his wife reported 137 investments totaling between $3.1 and $8.3 million in 1996 that earned between $148,372 and $386,182.
Most of these investments belong to four large family trusts that hold a variety of bonds and hot stocks such as Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp.
The most diversified investor of the bunch is Federal Reserve Board Governor Edward W. Kelley Jr. He and his wife listed more than 200 investments worth between $2.4 million and $7.4 million, according to his disclosure report for 1995. (Mr. Kelley's report for 1996 is not yet available for public inspection.)
Besides investing in well-known stocks such as Coca-Cola Co. and Walt Disney Co., Mr. Kelley also has stakes in companies that conduct leveraged buyouts of management companies and sell equipment to dry cleaners. He and wife reported income between $206,735 and $588,327 in 1995.
Alice M. Rivlin, the Fed's vice chairman, and her spouse were worth between $2 million and $7 million in 1995. (Her 1996 report also is unavailable.) They earned between $60,406 and $128,809 from a diversified trust worth over $1 million and other retirement investments. Royalties from two books paid less than $2,000 combined.
Beyond the usual bond and growth funds expected of financial experts, disclosure reports show investments ranging from the distinctive to the mundane.
Mr. Greenspan, worth between $2.3 million and $3.8 million, made less than $1,000 renting his parking space at the Watergate. The man many consider the most powerful in America earned between $144,743 and $346,232 from a modest number of investments-the most valuable being a 10-year-old blind trust worth more than $1 million.
Mr. Ludwig had been a limited partner in the Silver Diner restaurant chain based in Rockville, Md., but the company bought out the partnership last year when it went public.
However, National Credit Union Administration Chairman Norman E. D'Amours still sees a financial opportunity in fries and shakes, according to his 1996 report. He owns stock in Silver Diner Development Inc. worth less than $1,000 that paid dividends last year of no more than $200.
Mr. D'Amours and his wife, who are worth between $1.2 million and $2.6 million, make money renting the five houses they own in Virginia and New Hampshire.
Mr. D'Amours listed accounts at two banks but no credit unions. His spokesman said Mr. D'Amours closed his accounts at his hometown credit union in Manchester, N.H., when he became chairman to avoid any conflict of interest. The former congressman has two accounts at Wright Patman Congressional Federal Credit Union, but they are below the $1,000 reporting limit, the spokesman said.
True to his roots, FDIC Acting Chairman Andrew C. Hove Jr., a former banker in Minden, Neb., and his wife have stakes in three corn and soybean farms in Nebraska totaling 640 acres that earned them between $9,651 and $19,650 in rental income in 1996.
Mr. Hove also owns between $50,000 and $100,000 of stock in the illustrious Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the investment arm of his fellow Nebraskan and acquaintance Warren Buffett.
Former FDIC Chairman Ricki Helfer reported income between $104,732 and $277,432 on assets worth between $1 million and $2.7 million. Her report covered the 18 months before her resignation June 1.
Ms. Helfer invests in several Merrill Lynch Inc. funds and some individual retirement accounts, but her husband, banking lawyer Michael Helfer, is a heavy-duty investor in stocks such as Digital Equipment Corp., Morrison Knudsen Corp., Southwest Airlines Co., and Wendy's International Inc. He sold between $151,011 and $515,000 of stocks and purchased between $182,014 and $630,000 last year.
Other regulators are less active investors.
Nicolas P. Retsinas, acting director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, reported income between $17,119 and $43,603 on assets between $449,022 and $1.2 million in 1996.
Joseph H. Neely, an FDIC board member, had the smallest portfolio of any of the 13 regulators. He and his wife reported income between $16,891 and $28,791 on assets of up to $367,002. His largest investment was 7,100 shares of stock of WorldCom, a long-distance phone company based in Mr. Neely's home state of Mississippi.
These filings also show some of the regulators' outside activities. Ms. Helfer, a member of the board of Girl Scouts of the USA, received more than $1,600 in expenses to attend the nonprofit's board meetings.
Some public officials balk at these disclosure reports as an invasion of their privacy, but others take it in stride.
"I have nothing to hide," Mr. Hove said. "It is part of the job."
However, some regulators wish they could hide their poor investment choices.
John D. Hawke Jr., Treasury's under secretary for domestic finance, who earned between $224,509 and $377,391 on assets between $1.6 million and $4.1 million, laughed regretfully when asked about the condominium he owns in Brighton, Mass. He explained that he bought it for his son when he went to law school in the mid-1980s-only to have the bottom drop out of the market soon afterward. "If you know anybody who wants to buy a condo ... " he said.