Scott Walker Is Paying 27.24 Percent Interest on $10,000-Plus in Credit-Card Debt

Newly published financial disclosures show that the presidential hopeful has some major debt.

Republican presidential hopeful Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker sits for an interview during a visit to the famed Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago, Illinois.
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
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Shane Goldmacher
Aug. 3, 2015, 1:52 p.m.

Gov. Scott Walk­er has two cred­it-card debts of more than $10,000 apiece on sep­ar­ate cards and is pay­ing an eye-pop­ping 27.24 per­cent in­terest rate on one of them, new fed­er­al fin­an­cial doc­u­ments dis­closed on Monday show.

The Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate has cast him­self as both a fisc­al con­ser­vat­ive lead­er and a penny-pinch­ing every­man on the cam­paign trail, of­ten tout­ing his love of Kohl’s, the dis­count de­part­ment store. His newly pub­lished fin­an­cial dis­clos­ure shows that, like many Amer­ic­ans, Walk­er has few as­sets, some ma­jor debts (in­clud­ing more than $100,000 for stu­dent loans for his chil­dren), and a pun­ish­ing in­terest rate on his cred­it-card ob­lig­a­tions.

Walk­er in­curred one cred­it-card debt with Barclays in 2014, ac­cord­ing to the fin­an­cial dis­clos­ure form, and owed between $10,000 and $15,000 at a 27.24 per­cent in­terest rate as of Ju­ly 2015. Most fin­an­cial ad­visers re­com­mend shed­ding cred­it-card debt as quickly as pos­sible, es­pe­cially when pay­ing in­terest rates that high.

(RE­LATED: Hil­lary Clin­ton, Scott Walk­er, and the Fu­ture of Obama’s Cli­mate Plan)

Walk­er, who has spent his adult life in elec­ted of­fice, is among the poorer Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates for pres­id­ent. Don­ald Trump is worth bil­lions. Jeb Bush, Carly Fior­ina, and Ben Car­son are all mul­ti­mil­lion­aires. All told, Walk­er lis­ted only six in­vest­ments worth between $1,000 and $15,000, a whole life in­sur­ance plan worth between $15,000 and $50,000, and a de­ferred com­pens­a­tion plan from Mil­wau­kee County worth between $15,000 and $50,000.

His car­ry­ing of high-in­terest cred­it-card debt makes Walk­er the second ma­jor can­did­ate with some eye­brow-rais­ing per­son­al fin­ances. Earli­er this year, rival Sen. Marco Ru­bio, also among the less-well-off politi­cians in the field, re­por­ted cash­ing out one of his re­tire­ment ac­counts, an­oth­er move not re­com­men­ded by many fin­an­cial pro­fes­sion­als.

“As a pub­lic ser­vant, the gov­ernor gave back hun­dreds of thou­sands of his salary to the tax­pay­ers, and he is a reg­u­lar Amer­ic­an with two kids in col­lege and a small amount of cred­it card debt,” Walk­er spokes­wo­man Ash­Lee Strong said.

Walk­er has car­ried at least some cred­it-card debt for four years, ac­cord­ing to the dis­clos­ure form, des­pite a job as gov­ernor that paid him $222,899 since the start of 2014 (an­nu­al­ized, his salary is around $140,0000). In that time Walk­er also re­ceived a $45,000 ad­vance for a book, Un­in­tim­id­ated, about his gov­ernor­ship.

(RE­LATED: Scott Walk­er’s Su­per PAC Raised $20 Mil­lion. Half of That Came from Two Donors.)

One of Walk­er’s cred­it-card debts, to Bank of Amer­ica, dates back to 2011, his first year as gov­ernor, ac­cord­ing to the dis­clos­ure form. Walk­er cur­rently owes between $10,000 and $15,000 on that one, with an in­terest rate of 11.99 per­cent.

And that ap­pears to be a sub­stan­tial im­prove­ment. Walk­er’s state-level dis­clos­ure form in Wis­con­sin said that at the end of 2014 he had more than $50,000 in debts to Bank of Amer­ica. That form did not identi­fy the debt as a cred­it card, or list its in­terest rate.

On the Wis­con­sin form, Walk­er also lis­ted a $5,000 to $50,000 debt to Sears Mas­ter Card as of the end of 2014. That debt does not ap­pear on Walk­er’s fed­er­al dis­clos­ure, sug­gest­ing he paid it off.

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