Brett Kavanaugh

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s financial disclosure forms created a lot more questions than they were meant to answer — namely, who racks up as much as $200,000 in debt buying baseball tickets, and who paid it off last year?

On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported on Kavanaugh’s financials, which list personal debt ranging from $60,000 to $200,000 (financial disclosure forms only require ranges) that White House spokesman Raj Shah say was accumulated by purchasing Washington Nationals season tickets with credit cards over the past decade, a personal loan, and from debt incurred through home improvements.

Mysteriously, that debt was entirely paid off just last year. Shah said the money came from friends who repaid their baseball ticket debt, though he wouldn’t give the names of the friends who attended the games with Kavanaugh, how many people he bought tickets for, or any additional details about the tickets. Financial disclosure forms also don’t require that a person reveal the source of how a debt was paid off.

Because Kavanaugh only reported personal assets totaling between $15,000 and $65,000, and because baseball tickets are typically considered a luxury purchase, Kavanaugh’s financial judgment could be called into question by anyone willing to go down that route. However, the source of the debt is worth further investigation when digging into the numbers, as well as why so much long-term debt was paid off just last year.

In the 2015 season, for example, the Washington Nationals played 81 games at home. That same year, the most expensive season tickets package cost $320 per game. The costliest post-season tickets for last year’s series with the Chicago Cubs sold for $450 per game. Over the course of a whole season (not including playoffs), Kavanaugh would have spent nearly $26,000, meaning it’s theoretically possible to rack up as much as $200,000 in debt over a decade on baseball tickets.

As a U.S. Circuit judge dating back to 2006, Kavanaugh earns a salary of roughly $200,000/year, certainly putting him in the top echelon of most Americans (his wife, Ashley, earns approximately $66,000/year as a town manager). However, he bought his home in Chevy Chase — a ritzy DC-area neighborhood on the Maryland side of the Potomac — for $1.2 million that same year, according to the Post.

When accounting for a 20 percent down payment ($240,000), and a current mortgage of $865,000, many questions remain on how as much as $200,000 in personal debt Kavanaugh accumulated through charging baseball tickets to several credit cards over the course of a decade was all suddenly paid off in 2017, given his annual salary and financial obligations as a homeowner.

The suspicion surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s debt, its rapid payoff, and the White House’s explanation is fueling conspiracy theories on social media:

If confirmed by the full senate, Brett Kavanaugh would replace outgoing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom he once clerked for. Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) has already thrown his support behind Kavanaugh’s nomination, making his confirmation to the nation’s highest court all the more likely.


Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.


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