Kenneth Vogel comes up with the answer at Politico that eluded John McCain in his earlier interview. The actual number of houses owned by McCain is … zero. That’s right — the Senator doesn’t own a single property in his own name:
John McCain’s family owns at least eight properties — not the seven Democrats are alleging or the four McCain’s staff identified — according to a Politico analysis of property and tax records, as well as interviews.
The presumptive Republican nominee, though, may have some wiggle room in explaining why he couldn’t immediately provide an answer when asked by Politico how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own. Sen. McCain himself does not own any of the properties. They’re all owned by Cindy McCain, her dependent children and the trusts and companies they control. …
Politico’s analysis of the McCain records found that five of the eight properties were purchased between the summer of 2004 and this February, for a total of $11 million. And the analysis found that the McCains hired additional household help in 2007.
The five new properties are all condominiums, and they include three in Phoenix — one of which became the couple’s primary Phoenix residence after a Cindy McCain family trust in 2006 sold for $3.2 million the house in which they raised their children — and a pair outside San Diego.
The new properties joined three previously owned by Cindy McCain, her dependent children and their trusts: a scenic ranch outside Sedona, Ariz., where John McCain has entertained staff, prospective running mates and political reporters; a three-bedroom Arlington, Va., condo that’s been John McCain’s Washington-area residence since 1993; a La Jolla, Calif. condo that is home to Cindy McCain’s elderly aunt and on which the trust recently paid nearly $7,000 in back taxes.
I suspected that this was the actual answer when the story first made headlines. The McCains have a pre-nuptial agreement that separates their finances. The “homes”, as Barack Obama and his campaign put it, are mostly investment properties in Cindy McCain’s trust. Since John McCain has no involvement in his wife’s business affairs, he would have little knowledge of the assets in her portfolio.
Of course, a couple of these aren’t investment properties. Cindy bought a condo for their daughter, for instance, and she purchased another in La Jolla for an elderly aunt whom she supports. The McCains live primarily in a 6600-square-foot condo in Phoenix and a three-bedroom condo in Arlington when Congress is in session. They also have a Sedona ranch that again is part of Cindy’s portfolio.
No doubt, McCain’s clumsy answer gave Obama room to poke fun at him as rich and out of touch at the same time. However, McCain himself doesn’t own any property and isn’t “rich”, and Cindy and her family earned their money honestly. They certainly didn’t partner with a now-convicted political fixer to buy a house in a tony neighborhood.