Rep. Joe Baca


10:00 PM PDT on Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

Between the U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club and the rabid anticipation of this past weekend’s “golf summit” between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, Washington has been consumed with the sport.

Inland Rep. Joe Baca , one of the most avid golfers on the DC scene, was in the middle of the fun. In recent days, mentions of Baca’s prowess on the links were in the New York Times , the Washington Post and even this month’s Sports Illustrated golf supplement, which contained speculation that the Rialto Democrat might be tapped to fill out the presidential foursome.

Ultimately, Vice President Joe Biden and Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich were selected to join Obama and Boehner.

“I probably would have helped the president a lot more than the person he selected,” Baca joked late last week, before Saturday’s planned round.

Baca, who has played with the likes of Arnold Palmer, Bill Clinton and Chi Chi Rodriguez and is chairman of an actual group called the Congressional Golf Taskforce, might have a point.

He is ranked 20th on Golf Digest’s new list of Washington’s top 150 golfers, which shows him with a 4.2 handicap. Baca insists his handicap is closer to 3. Biden, meanwhile, was listed as 29th, Boehner 43rd and Obama came in at number 108 on the list, which includes lobbyists, members of Congress and administration officials. Rep. Mary Bono Mack , R-Palm Springs also made the list at number 133.

Baca, who repeatedly asked Obama to play a round with him, said Obama finally agreed when Baca approached him during a recent meeting with lawmakers.

“He said. ‘Yes, we’re going to have to make it happen,’ ” Baca recounted. “First he was telling me, ‘I have to wait until my putting is a little better.’ ”

As for advice for Obama, who is new to the game, Baca stressed the importance of not overestimating one’s ability when deciding which club to choose for any given shot.

“So often all of us have the tendency of letting our egos get in the way,” he said.

Issa’s wealth

Members of Congress were required to disclose information about their personal finances last week. Once again, Rep. Darrell Issa is near the top of the list.

Issa, R-Vista, whose invention of the Viper car alarm helped him amass a fortune, is worth a minimum of over $220 million, and possibly much more.

It is difficult to tell the exact worth of lawmakers, since they provide information about the value of personal assets and holdings. Issa, for example, disclosed 17 assets worth between $5 million and $25 million each and two assets as simply more than $50 million.

The $220 million figure is based on the low end of the spectrum for each of the scores of assets disclosed by Issa, who represents much of southwestern Riverside County., a nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics, has set out on its annual mission to analyze each member’s personal finances and rank them according to overall wealth. . Because the exact numbers are unknown, the final tally represents the “average estimated worth” of each member of Congress, said Dave Levinthal, the group’s spokesman.

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