Roll Call newspaper has issued its annual list of the “50 Richest Members of Congress” — and despite the oft-held view that Republicans are the only fatcats, there are actually more Democrats in the top 10 than Republicans.
Democratic Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., heads the list with nearly a quarter of a billion dollars, and a fellow Democrat, Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, squeaks in at No. 50 with $5.02 million.
But Washington, D.C.-based Roll Call cautions that the list can be misleading. It is based on the lawmakers’ financial disclosure forms, which are “extraordinarily unreliable sources of information.”
For one thing, the rules do not require the disclosure forms to include the value of a primary residence or other home not used for rentals, or the value of cars, airplanes, antiques or other valuable items.
Also, Roll Call notes, “there is no way to tell the difference between a $20 million investment and a $5 million investment.”
And because the top category on the members’ forms is “over $50 million,” it is impossible to accurately account for anything worth more than that.
Sen. Ted Kennedy, for example, reports a worth of less than $48 million on his disclosure form, while his trusts have reportedly been valued at over $500 million.
Here is the top 10:
1. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. — $230.98 million.
Kerry’s wife Teresa is the widow of Heinz ketchup heir John Heinz, and Forbes magazine has estimated the couple’s actual worth at $1 billion.
2. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif. — $225.96 million
Harman is heavily invested in Harman International Industries, an electronics firm founded by her husband.
3. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. — $160.62 million
Issa is the founder of Directed Electronics, which manufactures car alarms.
4. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. — $80.4 million
The senator is a descendant of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller.
5. Rep. Robin Hayes, R-N.C. — $78.96 million
Hayes inherited millions when his mother died in 2007, and he has large holdings in stocks, bonds, and real estate.
6. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla. — $65.49 million
The congressman owns several car dealerships and an aircraft charter business.
7. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. — $55.33 million
Lautenberg made millions from the payroll processing firm he founded.
8. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. — $52.34 million
The senator is married to financier Richard Blum, and the couple own all or part of numerous limited partnerships.
9. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. — $47.62 million
Much of Kennedy’s wealth comes from family trusts, including one valued from $25 million to $50 million.
10. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore. — $28.65 million
Smith’s fortune comes largely from Smith Food Sales, which markets frozen vegetables.
The list includes 23 Democrats in all, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi at No. 17 ($18.71 million) and Sen. Hillary Clinton at No. 29 ($10.39 million).
Sen. John McCain is No. 13 with $19.64 million, although some media outlets have stated that his wife Cindy’s net worth may exceed $100 million.
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