News Column

Treadwell's investments made him a millionaire

June 22, 2014

By Lisa Demer, Anchorage Daily News



June 22--In the years before he became lieutenant governor in 2010, Mead Treadwell carved out a living as an entrepreneur and investor.

Today, he's worth between $2.4 million and $10 million, according to an analysis of the U.S. Senate financial disclosure report he filed in May. Candidates report assets, debts and income within a range.

His home on N Street downtown is valued by the city at more than $1 million. He recently bought the house next door, valued for tax purposes at almost $600,000, mainly to ensure no one builds something objectionable there, he said. He also has a small house in Girdwood valued at close to $300,000 that he rents out, and is part owner of a family home in Michigan.

He has between $500,000 and $1 million in a Morgan Stanley money market fund, a Lincoln National Life Insurance policy worth between $250,000 and $500,000, and numerous other funds and stock holdings, including in companies that he helped start.

He has some debt, including a line of credit between $500,000 and $1 million that he says he used to buy the property next door.

His main income last year was his $115,000-a-year salary as lieutenant governor. Among smaller sources of income, he reported two $1,000 appearance fees from the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association. He also reported $15,000 to $50,000 in dividends and $3,350 in board compensation from Ellicott Dredge Enterprises, a Maryland-based dredge manufacturing company. The disclosure period covers 2013 and most of the first five months of 2014 but it wasn't clear if Treadwell's filings, which he says were reviewed by accountants and attorneys, stretched into this year.

Treadwell created a company called Venture Ad Astra to invest in geospatial and imaging technologies. "Ad astra" is Latin for "to the stars," and the name stems from his interest in space. According to a biography provided by his campaign, he was one of five lay people on a group of astronauts and scientists who worked in the 1980s on a plan to return to the moon. His wife had "Ad Astra" engraved on a watch that she gave him for a wedding present, he said.

"I basically have a record of starting companies some of which you sell and make money on and some of which you don't make money on," Treadwell said.

The family once held a garage sale to cover the mortgage, he said. Now with two sons in college and a daughter at boarding school, "our tuition bills are bigger than my income," he said. "I like to say 'I'm in the real world.'"

Venture Ad Astra is winding down and no longer producing real income, Treadwell said. His federal disclosure showed a loss of nearly $9,000 for 2013 but his separate, state financial disclosure showed both that business loss as well as residual income of more than $37,000. Treadwell said the losses relate to research and development expenses and that if there are any errors on the reports, they will be corrected.

That business invested in a company called Immersive Media, which created a 360 degree camera that pioneered Street View for Google and was used by the U.S. military for street mapping in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to Treadwell.

He also was an early backer of digital watermarking technology, patented by a company called Digimarc.

Treadwell still owns Digimarc publicly traded stock valued at between $100,000 and $250,000 and received $2,500 to $5,000 in dividends, according to his Senate disclosure.

Digimarc also holds patents for a positional navigational technology developed for the U.S. Air Force, which stopped working on the project as a result of federal budget cuts, according to Treadwell. Now a private group is looking at how to use it.

Reach Lisa Demer at ldemer@adn.com or 257-4390.

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(c)2014 the Anchorage Daily News (Anchorage, Alaska)

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Source: Anchorage Daily News (AK)


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