Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Members Of Congress Get Richer While Average Americans' Wealth Declines

The average member of Congress now has a net worth of more than $1 million according to a new study released by the Center for Responsive Politics. At least half of the people elected to Congress are millionaires. Senators average net worth grew from $2.3 million to $2.8 million. House members are comparatively less well off. Their average net worth grew from $708,500 to $843,507 during the period examined.

While the wealth of members of Congress continued to grow in recent years, the average American saw their net worth decline by one-third between 2007 and 2013. "Overall, CRP’s annual analysis of lawmakers’ financial statements once again shows that they are not remotely similar to the typical American in terms of wealth, investments and economic security," Russ Choma of the CRP said. The study found that their wealth grew more than the rate of inflation in every year but 2008. The study noted that House Speaker John Boehner's wealth grew considerably due to investments he made which were directly impacted by congressional action, including key investments in the medical and insurance sector favorably affected by the Affordable Care Act.

The following are the CRP's estimates of the average net worth of Indiana's congressional delegation. Because financial disclosure rules only require members to provide ranges of their wealth, the CRP averages ranges to compile the members' wealth. The members' actual net worth could be considerably higher or lower than the average net worth figure.

96. Sen. Dan Coats (R)-$5.944 million
122. Rep. Susan Brooks (R)-$4.288 million
232. Rep. Pete Visclosky (D)-$1.442 million
238. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R)-$1.398 million
256. Rep. Larry Buschon (R)-$1.138 million
295. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D)-$781,504
299. Rep. Todd Rokita (R)-$753,023
308, Rep. Luke Messer (R)-$702,515
412. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R)-$268,006
476. Rep. Todd Young (R)-$66,501
498. Rep. Andre Carson (D)-$16,501

It's a great gig if you can get it. Former Sen. Evan Bayh was worth less than $100,000 when he entered politics in the 1980s. By the time he left the U.S. Senate in 2010, he was worth at least $10 million. Sen. Dan Coats had little net worth worth when he first became a member of Congress, and he's now worth close to $6 million. Sen. Donnelly was nearly broke and struggling to pay his bills when he first ran for the House, but his financial situation appears to have dramatically improved since his arrival in Congress. Give him a few more years, and he'll be a multi-millionaire like Coats and Bayh. Oddly, former Sen. Richard Lugar's wealth appeared to decline during his 36 years in Congress. If anyone has an explanation for that, I would be interested in hearing it.

In studying the economic statement of interests filed by U.S. Rep. Luke Messer when he first ran for Congress, I noticed that several hundred thousand dollars had been funneled into his bank accounts from various NGOs which allegedly employed him and which were controlled by the likes of his multi-milllionaire benefactor and former college roommate of George W. Bush, Al Hubbard, to ensure the Messer household could live comfortably while he ran for Congress full-time. His wife claims to still work for a Noblesville law firm even though the family lives full-time in Washington now. Obviously, the Brooks household has fared very well from her and her husband's involvement in the Republican Party.


Marycatherine Barton said...

Yes, Congress SHOULD be renamed, the House of Treason.

Anonymous said...

What are these net worth numbers based on? Estimates? Actual information provided by our elected leaders? Many seem under-reported. Carson only has a net worth of 16k? Come on. Congressional leaders in other states have negative net worth in the millions. If that was true how could they afford the debt service?