Our Lieutenant Governor and putative gubernatorial front-runner, Phil Scott, released his financials on Monday. He’s worth three million dollars and some change.
Which sounds like a lot, but then you get to the details. The vast majority of his wealth — more than 80 percent of it — consists of his half-share in DuBois Construction, the family contracting firm that does a lot of business with the state of Vermont.
Now I understand why he’s been so reluctant to part ways with DuBois, even at risk of ethical entanglements: that firm IS his financial lifeline. Which, if he were less than a thoroughly honest man, would provide ample temptation to stack the deck in favor of DuBois when state contracts go out for bid.
Might be nice to have an Ethics Commission to handle such things, but c’est la vie.
I’m not usually too big on candidates’ financials; releasing them is a formality, and it’s extremely rare that they contain any surprises. But there was one number that stuck out like a sore thumb: his retirement and savings accounts add up to $192,290.
A hundred and ninety thousand dollars, any financial advisor will tell you, is barely a start toward a comfortable retirement. In fact, it’s grossly inadequate for a man in his late 50s.
Now, he does have assets. He could, presumably, sell his interest in the business and be set for life — if he could find a buyer, and if he doesn’t care about keeping the firm in the family. Even so, any financial advisor will tell you that it’s spectacularly unwise to concentrate so much of your net worth in a single asset. It’s like having 80 percent of your investment portfolio in a single stock; even if it’s Google, you’re walking a fiscal tightrope.
I realize that a small business operator has to sink a lot of profits and potential income back into the business. But more than 80 percent of one’s net worth? Phil Scott should have more of a nest egg — quite a bit more, in fact. Especially since he posits himself as a sound, capable manager.
It would seem that, in terms of saving toward retirement, he hasn’t managed his own finances all that well. He appears to have taken a relentlessly short-term view, keeping the business going and spending a lot of money on auto racing instead of keeping an eye on the future. Which makes me wonder if he truly has the vision to be an effective governor.
You may think I’m overreaching, but I don’t think so. Republicans are fond of comparing government spending to family finances. When you make the comparison in this case, Phil Scott doesn’t look very good.