Heiress Wife Is Source of McCain's 'Secret' Millions

McCain's Senate disclosures show Cindy's impressive wealth, off-limits to John.

ByABC News
April 18, 2008, 2:58 PM

April 18, 2008— -- Reading Sen. John McCain's, R-Ariz., personal tax returns, which the White House hopeful released today, you'd never know he's the Senate's eighth wealthiest member.

McCain's returns show he earned about $400,000 last year and gave a lot to charity. That's well above the poverty line -- but well below the $27 million to $45 million reflected in McCain's Senate financial disclosures.

The secret? The vast majority of the McCain family wealth comes from Cindy, McCain's second wife, who is heiress to a fortune built by her father, a beer distributor, whose firm she now chairs. Unlike the Obamas and Clintons, the McCains file their taxes separately -- and Cindy's returns are off-limits to the public, the campaign says.

But McCain's Senate disclosures give a picture of Cindy's impressive wealth -- and that of their children -- and show that almost none of it is directly shared with McCain himself.

What's more, McCain's relatively modest contributions to the family coffers are a fraction of the debt carried by Cindy and the children, the disclosures indicate.

Cindy and the children jointly hold millions in loans against property owned by the children; Cindy has her own construction line of credit worth more than $1 million, and she had, at the time of the filing, between $65,000 and $150,000 in credit card debt. Even two of the children had American Express platinum cards, carrying net balances between $25,001 and $65,000.

McCain's income and assets include most of his $161,700 Senate salary and his $56,000-a-year Navy pension. He lists a single personal checking account, with a balance of between $15,000 and $50,000.

Other than that, the only other "income" McCain reported holding onto in 2006 were two gifts of value: a glass bird from the Republican Main Street Partnership valued at $850 and a Waterford crystal eagle "on an engraved stand," which the disclosure valued at $8,000.

McCain lists no other investments, no retirement funds, no savings, no properties.