Marco Rubio has credit card problems: when he improperly used the Florida Republican Party’s credit card for personal expenses, he was giving up rewards. He wasted $22,000 in personal charges, neither using it to meet minimum spend for a lucrative credit card signup bonus nor earning category bonuses (and it was largely travel spend!).
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker can’t handle a credit card either, paying over 27% interest on significant credit card debt (including on a Sears card) rather than balance transferring to a 0% card with no balance transfer fee.
Now we learn that the nation’s 10th Justice can’t handle basic personal finance issues wisely, either.
The Solicitor General of the United States is often referred to as the 10th Justice (the Supreme Court is made up of 9 justices — 8 associates and a Chief Justice) because the federal government’s representative before the Court argues before the court more than any other, uniquely does not have to ask the Court’s permission to file an amicus brief, and is often even asked to do so by the Court so that they may benefit from the S.G.’s perspective on a case.
Donald Verrilli, Jr. replaced Elena Kagan as Solicitor General after she was elevated to the Court itself. And via Above the Law he’s been paying interest on credit card debt for years — despite assets which would easily allow him to pay off his cards.
His 2015 financial disclosure form (.pdf) shows ‘$25,000 – $65,000’ in revolving credit card debt incurred in 2007. (We do not know from the form what the balance on each card was between 2007 and 2015.)
He does appear to be making progress, though, because his 2012 form (.pdf) showed a revolving balance on a Citibank-issued card at 23%.
This isn’t just someone caught in a difficult financial situation, using credit cards as their best available means of accessing short term cash that they need. When he was confirmed as solicitor general in 2011 his disclosed net worth was in excess of $4 million.
Paying off this debt would give him an effective risk-free return on those assets of about 12%, something very few investors can accomplish any other way.
As Above the Law notes, “The members of the Supreme Court like to “CVSG” — “Call for the View of the Solicitor General” — but they might want to ignore him when it comes to personal finance.”
The Court might choose to read up on blogs and forums instead.
Verrilli will be stepping down June 24. We’ll be watching to see whether the next Solicitor General handles credit cards more effectively than the 10th Justice — or Justice Sotomayor, who carried $15,000 in credit card debt at the time of her appointment despite savings which could have paid off her cards.