Most members of Congress make $174,000 a year, which is a pittance compared with what they could make in the private sector. But the amount of income they earned from private sector jobs and companies they own tripled last year to at least $27.5 million for 68 members of Congress from $7.8 million for 75 members in 2006, according to a Wall Street Journal
analysis of financial-disclosure statements.
The increases partly reflect the huge cost of campaigns nowadays, which discourages candidates who aren't wealthy. Many wealthy individuals continue to own businesses after being elected to Congress.
In addition, more than 12 legislators serve on corporate boards, and scores garner income from investments in farms or real-estate holdings. Ethics rules ban members of Congress from earning more than $26,550 a year from outside work. But there’s no limit to the amount of money they can pull in from companies in dividends or profits, as long as they don’t work full time.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, made between $100,001 and $1 million in 2010 from farmland and rental property in Lake Jackson, Texas. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her husband scored between $5,001 and $15,000 selling grapes from a vineyard they own.
Other big-time money makers include Rep. John Fleming, R-La., who earned at least $6.3 million from Subway stores and UPS franchises; Rep. Thomas Petri, R-Wis., who earned between $1 million and $5 million for his participation in a Lloyd’s of London syndicate; and Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., who earned between $100,001 and $1 million for music royalties from her late husband, Sonny Bono.
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