The left-leaning press revealed its next angle of attack on Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh Wednesday with a Washington Post deep dive into his finances. The paydirt: In 2016, he had between $60,000 and $200,000 of debt, then he paid it off in 2017.
According to the Post’s analysis of Kavanaugh’s financial disclosures, this amount was spread over three credit cards and a Thrift Savings Plan loan, and at least some of the debt was due to Kavanaugh’s purchase of Washington Nationals baseball season tickets for himself, his family, and a number of friends. According to the same report, the debt is now entirely or nearly entirely paid off. As the seventh paragraph of the Washington Post story reads:
The credit card debts and loan were either paid off or fell below the reporting requirements in 2017, according to the filings, which do not require details on the nature or source of such payments. Shah told The Post that Kavanaugh’s friends reimbursed him for their share of the baseball tickets and that the judge has since stopped purchasing the season tickets.
A 2017 Experian report found that the average American household has $24,706 in debt without including mortgages. A Money magazine analysis of Federal Reserve numbers from 2016, however, when looking more narrowly at only Americans in Judge Kavanaugh’s age group of 45-54 who do take on debt, found an average non-mortgage, non-home loan debt of over $200,000.
Judge Kavanaugh earns $247,000 a year as a federal appeals court judge and as a law professor. His wife is a town manager and earns $66,000 a year for a combined household income of $313,000 a year — more than four times the American average — before investment income is taken into account. The Washington Post neglected to mention the largest of Kavanaugh investment assets – a nearly half million dollar government retirement account, in the first edition of its story, but added it later with a correction.
The Kavanaughs live in a home that, by the Washington Post’s reckoning, was worth over a million dollars when they purchased it in 2006. They have, by the same account, refinanced twice and owe $865,000 on the house.
Much of the Washington Post piece is devoted to emphasizing that, if confirmed, Kavanaugh may be the least wealthy member of the Supreme Court. According to a 2016 NBC News report, Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Samuel Alito, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan all have net worths in the millions, as does Neil Gorsuch, according to the Post. Justice Clarence Thomas, the Post notes, lists assets of merely between $695,000 and $1.7 million. These figures apparently do not include homes.
Unlike most of the current Justices, Kavanaugh has spent his entire career in public service and did not spend time in lucrative private practice, nor did he work as a full-tenured law professor, nor marry a wealthy spouse.
As the Washington Post’s correction admitted, however, their initial suggestion that Kavanaugh had non-home assets of only $15,000-$65,000, and would therefore have less than one tenth the wealth of the next poorest justice, is wildly inaccurate, failing to take into account the above mentioned retirement account.