Washington Wealth: 5 Richest Members of Congress
Given the nature of money in politics these days, it seems appropriate to consider the financial stature of our political representatives, especially the politicians who make the most money in Congress. In the continual back-and-forth on minimum wage increases, Republicans are arguing that Democrats are not truly helping their constituents in a way that will help the economy grow, while Democrats are arguing that Republicans are too wealthy to identify with middle-class working Americans.
Both points are debatable and likely have grains of truth, but when one examines the wallets of U.S. senators and representatives, it’s a mixed bag. Let’s take a look at the top five and see which members of both houses on both sides of the aisle are sitting on the largest piles of cash.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)
According to Roll Call, Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican, has been the wealthiest member of Congress for two years in a row now, with a net work of $357.25 million, an increase of just under $2 million from last year. In the past his money stemmed from his company, Directed Electronics, but at present the bond and real estate markets are his source of financial success.
Issa is, at this point, fairly well known for his wealth and is often the target of critics concerned with corruption. He has historically not been a supporter of the minimum wage increase, something that, combined with his bank account, is bound to draw the ire of Democrats. Personal wealth has little to do with the minimum wage vote — far more relevant is party membership, which is why wealthy Democrats were not liable to vote against the minimum wage increase based purely on their own financial states.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)
Texas Rep. Michael McCaul has an estimated net worth of $117.54 million, based on Roll Call’s ranking. However, Roll Call notes that for many politicians, including McCaul, it’s not completely clear how much money is actually owned by the politician and how much is owned by that person’s spouse because of the way holdings are categorized and disclosed.
In 2011, McCaul was at the top of the list of wealthy politicians — he remains up there to this day — but most of his money was not actually his own before marrying wife Linda McCaul. She is the daughter of the CEO of Clear Channel Communications, Lowry Mays, who New York Magazine suggests gave some funds as a gift to the couple.
Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.)
Rep. John Delaney of Maryland sits in third place with a net worth of $111.92 million. The source of his wealth is largely from his own efforts as a chief executive of two publicly traded companies, something Roll Call reports he is alone in being able to claim in Congress. The first company he built was HealthCare Financial Partners, which went public in 1996, and the second was CapitalSource, which went public in 2003. Most of he and his wife’s money is in investments and trusts, with a negligible amount in real estate.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.)
The surname should be a hint from the get-go about Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s fiscal well-being. Currently, he and his wife, Sharon Rockefeller, have a net worth of approximately $108.05 million, Roll Call reports. As the heir of John D. Rockefeller, much of his money originally stemmed from his father’s work in the oil industry. But while Rockefeller comes from a family of big money, he voted to increase the minimum wage in April.
He recently announced his intended retirement in 2014, when he is up for re-election. In talking about his decision to retire and his time in office, he referenced the financial side of his life. Politico reports that he said of his work for the community in West Virginia that it “was what I was looking for. I was looking for a cause, I was looking for a mission, I was looking for something that would possess me, which would make really proud, something that was hard every day and was uphill, and it wasn’t going to be on Wall Street.”
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.)
Like Rockefeller, Sen. Mark Warner voted for the minimum wage increase in April. Unlike Rockefeller, he’s a self-defined centrist with many business interests who made most of his money in venture capitalism, which developed into the beginning of the fortune that he has today, before he hit his forties. At present, most of his money (and his wife Lisa Collis’s money) is placed in trusts and investments, for a net worth of about $108.05 million.
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