Members were wealthy when they took office
Many lawmakers have family money or were wealthy before they were elected to office, and they continue to make savvy investments.
Sen. JD Alexander, R-Lake Wales, the grandson of citrus magnate Ben Hill Griffin Jr, grew his net worth from $1,187,000 to $8,985,000 since he was first elected in 1998. Incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has seen his net worth grow from $24 million to $25.5 million since taking office in 2006.
Recession affected most, not all members
Plummeting real estate prices singed Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach, who lost big when the housing market crashed — his net worth is down from $304,000 to $150,0000.
Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, saw her net worth spike from $680,000 to more than $1 million before the housing bubble burst cut the value in half. “That was a reflection of the real estate market everyone was dealing with,” said Bogdanoff, who’s an attorney.
Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Gainesville, a former sheriff who was elected to state office in 2006 and is now running for Congress, had $1.7 million in 2008. But he lost $725,000 during the recession, largely due to the decline in real estate values.
Thrasher and his wife invested conservatively for years, and rely on a financial adviser they trust. Since Thrasher took office in 1992, his net worth ballooned from $125,000 to $6.8 million, which stayed flat during the recession.
Some long-term lawmakers such as Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, slowly saved their way to wealth. Fasano, elected to office in 1994, has grown his net worth from $125,000 to $1.2 million since that time.
“I paid off my home, and therefore there’s no mortgage. Some people suggest that I’m very cautious about my money. Some people might use a word other than cautious, but we’ll leave it at cautious,” he joked.