WASHINGTON -- H. Ross Perot owns many millions worth, Bill Clinton owns many thousands worth, and Jerry Brown has none at all.
The three presidential challengers hold vastly different amounts of municipal bonds in their personal portfolios, judging by financial disclosure forms the three filed last week.
Mr. Perot, the Texas billionaire and political outsider, owns at least $110 million worth of municipal bonds, but there is no way to determine an upper limit to his holdings, based on the forms used.
Mr. Clinton, governor of Arkansas and the Democratic front-runner, holds between $177,000 and $277,000. And Mr. Brown, former California governor, holds zero, according to his forms.
Presidential candidates are required to disclose their personal holdings to the Federal Elections Commission. They are only required to divulge ranges of value, however, and not exact amounts. There are six value ranges on the disclosure forms, with the lowest under $1,001, and the highest over $1 million.
"You'll get no totals from these forms," said Fred Eiland, spokesman for the commission, which makes the forms available to the public.
Mr. Perot, whose net worth has been estimated at around $3 billion, recently filed his disclosure form. It shows that he holds 332 different types of apparent income-producing assets, including 170 types of individual municipal bond issues and 162 other types. Real estate and commercial paper make up the bulk of his non-municipal assets, while common stocks are relatively scarce.
Based on the value ranges, the worth of Mr. Perot's municipal bond holdings falls somewhere between $110 million and much more. In all likelihood, the value is much greater than $110 million because 99 of the 170 municipal entries are in the "greater than $1 million" range -- with no upper limit mentioned on Mr. Perot's form.
It is also impossible to estimate the portfolio's specific proportion of municipals, because a total of 175 of the 332 entries are listed in the greater than $1 million category. Thus, there is no way of determining how large these holdings really are. Recently, a spokesman for Mr. Perot said no additional information would be provided about the portfolio.
As for Mr. Clinton, he disclosed 34 apparent income-producing assets, including nine types of municipal bonds and one municipal bond fund, with a combined worth under $277,000, according to his form.
Of the 10, Mr. Clinton's largest holding was in the Cortland Municipal Money Market Fund, which was listed in the $50,000 to $100,000 range, according to his form. He also listed two holdings of individual bond issues in the $20,000 to $50,000 range, with the other seven all under $15,000.
What kinds of municipal bonds do the candidates hold?
Mr. Perot's portfolio is well diversified. He holds bonds in roughly 40 states, from Hawaii to Maine, with large concentrations in Texas and Florida, according to his form.
In addition, Mr. Perot holds bonds issued by towns, counties and states. And his bonds are used to finance a wide range of projects, including schools, utilities, dams, sewers, parks, and hospitals and highways, according to his form.
As for Mr. Clinton's holdings, his municipals came almost exclusively from Arkansas issuers. But the types of projects funded by the bonds varied considerably. His municipals were used to fund education, housing, and waterworks, among other things.