TALLAHASSEE — For the first time in at least a decade, the average net worth of state House members — $6.208 million — is higher than the mark in the Senate — $3.87 million — after this year’s elections.
But the House average is deceiving.
The change is due primarily to freshman Rep. Kevin Steele, a Dade City Republican who more than two decades ago founded DataLink Software, a Tampa-based health care technology company.
Steele this year reported a net worth topping $408 million, or $72.1 million more than the combined net worths of the other 119 members of the House. Steele is listed on the House website as being “CEO, retired,” while the DataLink website has him retaining the position of board chairperson.
Steele displaced Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo, a Lecanto dermatologist, at the top of the legislative wealth list.
Massullo reported a net worth of $64.3 million when he filed a financial disclosure form with his campaign paperwork this year. When he first ran for office in 2016, Massullo’s net worth was $26.8 million.
Lawmakers are required to estimate net worth, assets valued at more than $1,000, liabilities of more than $1,000 and information about income. Some give the basics. Some go into detail.
Most of Steele’s money — $375 million — is in unspecified real estate holdings under the description “Steele Family Holdings.”
His lakefront Dade City home is valued at $10.5 million. Another residence, along the water in nearby Hudson, carries an appraised value of $890,000.
A small part of Steele’s diverse investment portfolio as of May 31 included 5,000 shares, worth $80,050, in Norwegian Cruise Lines — which battled with Gov. Ron DeSantis over COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Also, they included 1,200 shares, worth $132,526, in the Walt Disney Co. — which was targeted by DeSantis over opposition to an education bill.
Overall, half of the 120 House members reported being millionaires. In the Senate, 22 of the 40 members posted net worths over $1 million.
With the departure of former Sen. George Gainer, a Panama City Republican worth more than $50 million, Sen. Tom Wright, R-New Smyrna Beach, reported being the wealthiest senator at $32.79 million. Wright owned three Minnesota-based companies.
By Jim Turner, News Service of Florida