Teresa Heinz Kerry, through a network of investments in blue-chip corporations, venture capital funds and municipal bonds, controls a family fortune worth an estimated $1 billion, an examination of public records shows.
The $1 billion figure is double the estimates of her wealth that are widely cited in news stories about her husband, Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
The couple would rank as the wealthiest to occupy the White House, far surpassing such storied presidential fortunes as the Kennedys'. Their assets are so vast and far-reaching that they mirror the U.S. economy, and will likely raise questions about conflicts of interest.
"She represents a new ballgame in terms of her wealth and in terms of the wealth she controls," said Kevin Phillips, a political commentator and author of the history "Wealth and Democracy."
Heinz Kerry inherited a vast fortune from the late Sen. Heinz, who died in a 1991 private aircraft accident. Heinz, formally H.J. Heinz III, was the fourth generation of the Pittsburgh family famous for its ketchup and other food products.
Political experts predict the Kerrys will be compelled to disclose more about their assets and perhaps place them in a blind trust if Sen. Kerry wins the election.