Tags: Roll Call | congress | wealth | worth

Roll Call: Wealthy Americans Find a Home in Congress

By    |   Monday, 27 October 2014 12:16 PM

The outcome of the mid-term elections might still be in doubt, but it's safe to say that regardless of who wins, wealthy Americans are likely to be over represented in next year's Congress.

Forget the 1 percent — in the House and Senate, it's more like the 35 percent. That's the percentage of millionaires elected there, or 188 out of 535 members, according to a new CQ Roll Call analysis.

"It was a good year for members of Congress in one respect: their pocketbooks," Roll Call noted.

It estimated the combined minimum net worth of Congress surged by more than $150 million to $2.1 billion, based on the latest financial disclosure forms.

The top five members of Congress had more than 37 percent of the wealth reported. The wealthiest member was Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., with a net worth of $357 million derived from a car alarm business he founded.

The others in the top five are Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Tex., with a net worth of $117.5 million, whose wife is the daughter of Clear Channel broadcasting founder Lowry Mays; Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., with $111.9 million from founding a healthcare lending business and a small business bank; Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., with an estimated $108 million inherited fortune; and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a venture capitalist with an estimated $95 million net worth.

"It's not a secret that one of the easier ways to get to Congress is to be rich in the first place, given the cost of campaigning and the hassles of fundraising," Roll Call reported.

The median lawmaker had a minimum net worth of $456,522.

The minimum net worth of the Senate was almost $570 million, with 50 senators having more than $1 million.

The House had a minimum net worth of $1.53 billion, with at least 138 millionaires.

However, Roll Call said the actual wealth of Congress is likely to be significantly higher than the members' reported wealth, because members of Congress do not have to disclose all of their assets.

Assets and liabilities are disclosed in broad ranges — such as $1 million to $5 million — and lawmakers are required to list mortgages but not home values. Non-interest-bearing bank accounts also do not have to be revealed, no matter the value, nor do personal assets such as cars or home furnishings.

Barron's Jim McTague called the concentration of wealth in the US House and Senate "an impressive concentration of wealth few country clubs can beat."

McTague's own analysis of the Congressional portfolios showed that many do not appear to be very well run.

"No wonder these folks can't manage taxing and spending efficiently. Many congressional portfolios look like they could use extreme makeovers," he wrote.

For instance, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, with a net worth at $2.3 million, listed 30 different mutual funds, two exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and more than 70 individual stocks. "He could cut his management fees quite a bit by consolidating funds with similar investment objectives and rolling more money into ETFs," McTague explained.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, owned approximately 40 mutual funds, many of them inherited and in a trust. Some were duplicative, according to McTague.

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The outcome of the mid-term elections might still be in doubt, but it's safe to say that regardless of who wins, wealthy Americans are likely to be over represented in next year's Congress.
Roll Call, congress, wealth, worth
532
2014-16-27
Monday, 27 October 2014 12:16 PM
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