Jaime Harrison's Years as a Lobbyist Paid Off

South Carolina Democrat's new financial disclosure reveals rapid wealth growth

Jaime Harrison
Jaime Harrison / Getty Images
August 14, 2019

South Carolina Democrat Jaime Harrison's financial outlook completely turned around since he joined the Podesta Group as a corporate lobbyist in 2008, according to his just-filed financial disclosure.

Harrison, now running for U.S. Senate in South Carolina, last had to file a financial disclosure in 2008 as a high-paid staffer for Rep. Jim Clyburn (D., S.C.). At the time, Harrison had no reportable assets and significant liabilities, disclosing credit card and loan debt together between $140,004 and $365,000.

But Harrison left Clyburn's office, where he was earning a six-figure salary, in December 2008 to join the now-defunct Podesta Group, where he went on to represent the interests of a who's who of corporate giants—Walmart, BP, Bank of America, Boeing, Merck, and Google.

The work paid off, according to a new required financial disclosure Harrison submitted Monday night. Harrison, who left the Podesta Group at the end of 2016, now reports assets of up to $3.45 million.

In addition to a large and diverse portfolio consisting of stocks, bonds, and mutual fund investments, Harrison's family has significant money held in checking and savings accounts, and a sizable investment of between $100,000 and $250,000 in a Virginia residential property he earns rental income from.

The American Express debt he carried in 2008, between $25,002 and $65,000, is now gone. Aside from student loan debt he and his wife still carry, their only debt is the mortgage on the Virginia rental property.

Harrison still has between $50,001 and $100,001 in student loan debt, and his wife, who is also a lawyer, has two outstanding student loans, each between $15,001 and $50,000, but the debts are now dwarfed by his assets.

The two largest assets listed are a T. Rowe Price retirement fund in his name valued at between $250,001 and $500,000 and a Congressional Federal Credit Union checking account worth between $250,001 and $500,000 held jointly with his wife.

Harrison, who came under fire during his 2016 run for Democratic National Committee chairman, has been open about the role money played in his decision to leave Capitol Hill for the Podesta Group.

"That's the society we live in," Harrison said. "You get a job, and you try to make money for your family."

"It's how I pay back the $160,000 of student loan debt," he added. "It's how I pay the mortgage for my grandmother."

After he left the Podesta Group, Harrison became associate chairman of the DNC, a post that earned him a $271,813 salary last year, according to the disclosure.

He is also earning royalties off a book he co-authored, Climbing the Hill, on how to rise through the ranks in Washington, D.C. In it, Harrison says the Podesta Group was the "perfect fit" because he "could expect a salary commensurate with his financial obligations" while staying "intimately connected" to Capitol Hill.

Harrison, the frontrunner to be the Democratic nominee in South Carolina this cycle, has said he's proud of the work he did as a corporate lobbyist.

"I'm no longer a lobbyist, but a lot of good Democrats are," Harrison said in 2017. "I won't participate in this blanket assassination of various folks because some members of our party don't agree with what their jobs are."

Harrison has been embraced by the Democratic establishment ever since he dropped out of the race for DNC chairman in early 2017 and endorsed Tom Perez, the eventual winner. He received a $22,270 payment from Perez to cover his campaign expenses.

His Senate campaign has been boosted early on by contributions from lobbyists, including former colleagues at the Podesta Group.