The Burton Money Machine

John Burton's 1040s reveal that politics doesn't pay

He has 23 separate investments in all. And his tax returns indicate that he is a good liberal, sharing the wealth with at least five loans to associates over the years, on which (like a good conservative) he collects interest and holds deeds of trust as collateral.

Burton's stock dividends have steadily increased over the years. Starting at a paltry $180 in 1990, Burton reported $4,700 in dividends four years later. (The rise in dividends is partially due to his expanding investment portfolio. In 1990, he had only 14 separate personal investments.)

Assuming that his dividends average 3 percent, the normal rate of return on the New York Stock Exchange, his reported stock holdings in 1994 -- those that were producing dividends -- were worth $157,000.

Burton's interest income has decreased over the same period, from more than $40,000 in 1990 to slightly more than $26,000 in 1994. Assuming that he earns 6 percent in interest, Burton's holdings here are worth $536,000.

But the most notable expansion in Burton's pocketbook over the years has come from MDNH Partners, which is worthy of further scrutiny. Burton declined a second interview to explain the details of his portfolio.

In 1992, the first year MDNH Partners appears on Burton's tax returns or his statements of economic interest, he made a $185,000 profit. In 1993, he made a total profit of $112,000 off this single investment, a limited partnership in which he holds less than a 10 percent interest, according to his statements of economic interest.

What's noteworthy about Burton's MDNH profits is that many were made over the short term, in less than one year. From 1992 to 1994, MDNH produced $171,000 in short-term gains. Remember the big stink that followed disclosures that Hillary Clinton had made $100,000 in the commodities market in less than a year?

Regardless, Burton can thank MDNH for the steady increase in his capital gains column. In 1990 and 1991, before he invested in MDNH Partners, he was posting capital losses of between $1,900 and $3,000 per year.

After he acquired an interest in the limited partnership, he broke into the black, reporting a gain of $44,000 in 1992. In the following two years, MDNH bumped him further into the profit margin, and in 1994 he made a gain of close to six figures, according to his tax return.

If money made the Burton world go 'round, he should never have returned to politics in 1987. That year, he reported $500,000 in income. He hasn't come close to those numbers since.

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