Like many candidates for political office, Wesley Clark would take quite a pay cut if elected to the office he seeks. U.S. presidents make a paltry $400,000 annual salary. According to WaPo,

Presidential candidate Wesley K. Clark’s income grew dramatically after he retired from the military, rising from $84,205 in 1999 to $1.61 million last year, according to his financial disclosure report.

Since his retirement, the retired four-star general and NATO commander has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking and consulting fees and $90,000 as a registered lobbyist. He also took over the chairmanship of a company seeking to sell motorized bicycles to the Pentagon and police agencies.

His net worth is between $3 million and $3.5 million, according to his campaign spokesman.

Christopher Lehane, Clark’s spokesman, said that Clark was a highly successful general who “ended a genocide” in Kosovo and has been economically successful in his retirement because a number of companies “thought highly of him because of the success he had.”

Clark’s net worth is far less than the assets of Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), who, with his wife, is worth an estimated $500 million. According to news accounts, the net worth of other Democratic candidates ranges from $13 million to $60 million for Sen. John Edwards (N.C.); $2.2 million to $5 million for former Vermont governor Howard Dean; and $2,000 to $32,000 for Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio).

I’m not suggesting any impropriety here–Clark’s earnings are probably commensurate to what Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf, and some other prominent public figures earned on the rubber chicken circuit upon leaving their official duties. But I’ve never understood what would prompt a corporation to pay $25,000 for a speech by one of these guys. For one thing, I’ve never heard a speech that I’d have paid $25 for. For another, it’s not like these guys haven’t been on C-SPAN or somewhere giving the same pearls of wisdom away for nothing.

On the other hand, what is poor Dennis Kucinich doing wrong?! I had a net worth of $32,000 when I was a lowly college professor in Lower Alabama. Congressional salaries are paltry compared to what most Members could earn on the outside, but even at $200,000 a year it doesn’t take long to amass $32,000 in assets. Given his well publicized bachelorhood, it’s not like he’s spending it on the wife and kids. Even a modest home in Cleveland would acrue that much equity by the time one reached Kucinich’s age.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Yeah, that Kucinich number looks like a typo. At his age he should have SOME assets: a retirement fund, IRA, real estate, SOMETHING.

    The only thing is if he has some sort of loans for his campaign, which they are subtracting off of his personal wealth to get his “net”.