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Sorting out the truth in politics

PolitiFact: While Biden has few financial accounts, his wife has many

The statement

"I don't own a single stock or bond. … I have no savings accounts."

Vice President Joe Biden, June 23 at the White House Summit on Working Families

The ruling

Even though Biden was known as one of the poorest members of Congress while he was a senator, the statement raised some eyebrows. So how do his finances stack up?

At the North American International Auto Show in January, Biden said that when he first ran for office in 1972, he promised he would never own any stocks or bonds.

Biden's office declined to comment on the record about his finances and whether or not he lived up to that promise. But we were able to look at Biden's 2013 executive branch personnel public financial disclosure report, which was submitted just last month.

The report lists about a dozen investments, all of which fall into the $1,001-$15,000 range.

However, they're not strictly his.

All 11 are designated by the letter "S" — used to indicate that the holding belongs to the filer's spouse. That means the 11 investments are owned by Jill Biden, his wife of 37 years.

But the savings accounts are a different story.

According to the disclosure documents, the Bidens have five savings accounts, which fall into a larger range. Some amounted to less than $1,001, while others fell into the $50,001-$100,000 category.

Four of the five accounts belong to the vice president's wife, while the final one has the classification "J" — a joint account that belongs to both of them. This U.S. Senate Federal Credit Union account's holdings fall into the $1,001-$15,000 range.

Even if the investments aren't in the vice president's name, they are part of his household wealth, and he stands to benefit from their success, said George Pennacchi, a finance professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Biden also holds four checking accounts, two of which he shares with his wife. In addition, he holds six life insurance policies with Mass Mutual. The Bidens reported an adjusted gross income of $407,099 last year, including his vice presidential salary of $230,700.

So, Biden was wrong to say that he doesn't have a savings account because he shares one with his wife. However, he doesn't have ownership over any stocks and bonds — those all belong to his wife. We rate his statement Half True.

Lauren Carroll and Molly O'Connor, Times Staff Writers

Read more rulings at PolitiFact.com.

PolitiFact: While Biden has few financial accounts, his wife has many 06/27/14 [Last modified: Friday, June 27, 2014 6:51pm]

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