Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s choice for vice president, is one of the top political fundraisers in Congress, with backing from the employees of banks and insurance companies that would benefit from his actions on financial regulation and Medicare.
Ryan, who represents southeastern Wisconsin, has more than $5.4 million in his campaign account, about $2 million more than the next highest House member, according to Federal Election Commission data. The Romney campaign raised at least $2 million after he announced Ryan as his running mate, according to Andrea Saul, a spokeswoman.
While the Ryan re-election committee’s cash-on-hand can’t be spent directly by the Romney campaign, the money can be transferred to the Republican National Committee to use on behalf of the presidential ticket.
Ryan voted against the 2010 financial regulation law that imposed new rules on an industry blamed for contributing to the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Romney has called for repealing the law, opposed by the financial industry.
Lobbyists whose clients include the American Banking Association and the Financial Services Roundtable scheduled a January 2011 fundraiser for Ryan’s leadership political action committee, which he uses to help elect other Republicans to office, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based research group. Ryan’s Prosperity PAC had $724,265 in the bank at the end of June, according to FEC reports.
In December 2009, lobbyists for lenders that make short-term loans online held a fundraiser for Ryan’s re-election campaign, according to the Sunlight Foundation. Such lenders are being regulated under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created in the financial-regulatory overhaul.
Ryan’s budget proposal to end traditional Medicare for future generations would benefit private insurers, an industry that has been one of Ryan’s top campaign contributors over the years.
Insurance employees and their families have given $815,328 to Ryan’s election efforts over his career, more than any other industry, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based group that tracks donations.
Employees of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., based in Milwaukee, and their families have been Ryan’s top donors throughout his political career, giving more than $89,000. Employees of the National Beer Wholesalers Association and members of their families make up Ryan’s second-largest donor pool, contributing $75,000 over the years.
Bringing private insurers into Medicare is crucial to holding down costs and reducing the federal budget deficit, Ryan said on Bloomberg Television in April 2011.
“If you do not address health care, you do not fix the budget,” Ryan said. “We want a bunch of providers competing against each other for our business. That gets rid of waste, increases productivity, and is better for the beneficiary.”
Ryan, 42, has never held a traditional private-sector job. His career in Washington -- first as an aide on Capitol Hill and for almost 14 years as a member of the House -- has resulted in a net worth of about half that of the average member of Congress.
His assets totaled between $927,100 and $3.2 million in 2010, while the average member of Congress has a net worth of $5.9 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Ryan and his wife, Janna Little Ryan, have financial stakes, worth between $350,000 and $800,000, in her family’s Oklahoma-based land and energy companies, according to Ryan’s 2011 financial disclosure forms, filed in May.
The companies are Ava O Limited, which has mining interests; Blondie & Brownie LLC, which has gravel interests; Little Land Company, an oil and gas corporation; and Red River Pine Limited, a timber company, the forms show. Also listed on the forms are mining rights in Oklahoma.
Janna Little Ryan earned between $100,000 and $1 million in 2011 from an annual distribution of her late mother’s trust, according to an addendum to the 2011 disclosure, filed in June.
Ryan reported a $250,001 to $500,000 mortgage on his house in Janesville, Wisconsin, the town where he was born and raised.
“I never really left it, it’s our home now,” Ryan said of Janesville after being introduced by Romney as his running mate during an event in Norfolk, Virginia.
Ryan has been a member of Congress since 1999. He graduated in 1992 from Miami University in Ohio with a degree in economics and political science and came to work in Washington, first as an aide to Wisconsin Republican Senator Bob Kasten.
He then was employed as a speechwriter for Empower America, a Republican-leaning advocacy group. In 2004, Empower America was folded into Citizens for a Sound Economy, a group founded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, to form FreedomWorks, which is still active today.
Ryan has compared being a congressman with running a small business. Every two years he must raise money for his re-election.
As a House candidate this election cycle, Ryan has 2,296 disclosed donors, 453 of whom had already given to Romney, according to an analysis of campaign finance information by Bloomberg News. The analysis found that of the three often-discussed vice-presidential picks -- Ryan, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Ohio Senator Rob Portman -- Ryan had the least to offer Romney in terms of new donors.
In 2012, Ryan’s top five campaign contributors were employees of two accounting firms, Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP; Northwestern Mutual; a financial services company, Wells Fargo & Co.; and a pharmaceutical company, Abbott Laboratories, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Employees of hedge fund manager Elliott Management Corp., financial lender UBS AG and home-improvement company Home Depot Inc. round out the top five donors to Ryan and his PAC.
Wells Fargo, Elliott Management and UBS employees are among the top contributors to Romney’s presidential campaign, according to the center
Ryan now pivots his campaign fundraising efforts to the presidential campaign. A tentative schedule, obtained from the Romney campaign by Politico, shows 10 Ryan events this month.
He’s scheduled to start tomorrow with a dinner reception in Denver.