U.S.

Members Of Congress Are Richer Than Ever

January 16, 2013

The median estimated net worth of incoming freshmen members of Congress is almost $1 million more than that of the typical American household, according to a report released Tuesday by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.

According to recent Census data, the median net worth of American households was $66,740 in 2010. The median net worth of the 94 lawmakers who won election in November, however, was much, much higher: $1,066,515 at end of 2011.

The wealthiest freshman lawmaker is Rep. John K. Delaney (D-Md.), who previously managed a commercial lending firm and has an estimated net worth of $139 million, according to the report.

But veteran members of Congress are no paupers either. The report found that 48 percent of all members of Congress have an estimated net worth of more than $1 million — representing a 9 percent increase in average net wealth for lawmakers from 2010 to 2011. CRP also estimated the total combined net worth of all lawmakers in 2011 was $4.5 billion.

Among the richest lawmakers is Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who made his fortune in the car alarm business and is worth about $480 million. On the Democratic side, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and outgoing Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) are valued at $235 million and $171 million, respectively.

Some have voiced concern recently over how money affects the ability of lawmakers to do their jobs. Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of CPR, cast doubt on whether uber-wealthy lawmakers could relate to average citizens.

“Apparently, on the whole, we don’t want people who look like us, financially speaking [in Congress],” Krumholz said in a statement Tuesday. “What’s harder to measure is whether these new legislators appreciate the financial pain people face and can effectively represent them despite the fact that they themselves are well off.”

Check out the full list of the wealthiest people in Congress here.

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