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Recently, the Capitol Hill publication Roll Call analyzed the financial assets of U.S. lawmakers — annual disclosures they are required to make — to determine the members of the US Congress that have the highest approximate net worth.
Although these Congressional disclosures are not exact — they are displayed in a range of estimated value over broad categories — Roll Call, a Capitol Hill news and information provider, analyzed the assets and liabilities of every US representative and senator to come up with the 50 richest members of Congress. The 15 richest members are presented here.
Because assets are listed over wide ranges, such as “between $5 million and $25 million,” minimum net worth gives an idea of the lowest possible value of real assets, while actual net worth, in most cases, is likely much higher.
Assets may include non-government income, asset transactions, spouse's income, gifts and more. Listing of non-income generating property (including a primary residence) is not required under disclosure rules. Assets listed were held by members of Congress in 2009.
So, who are the richest members of the U.S. Congress this year? Click ahead to find out!
Posted 21 Sept 2010
Minimum net worth: $19.37 million
The California Republican bulked up his minimum net worth by more than 46 percent with a half-dozen real estate investments at a combined value of at least $8 million.
In 2009, Miller acquired a stake in Long Term Bend Investors in Irvine, Calif., in a transaction valued at $5 million to $25 million. The investment had a minimum value of $5 million in 2009.
He also reported five purchases of multiple lots in Bend, Ore., with a combined minimum value of at least $3.5 million.
Miller also maintains 382 acres of “vacant land” in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., valued at $5 million to $25 million, and a vacant industrial site in Rialto, Calif., valued at $1 million to $5 million.
Miller also listed new bank accounts with California Christian Credit Union and Commercial Bank with values of at least $1 million each. He reported no funds in four other accounts — Capitol Source Bank, Countrywide Bank, One West Bank and Vineyard Bank — that he previously reported with a minimum value of $1 million each.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $19.69 million
Much of the Idaho senator’s fortune is held in Idaho farm and ranch lands.
Risch owns four tracts of land in Idaho — ranging from 24 acres to about 180 acres — valued at a combined minimum of $16 million.
He also listed other real estate investments, including four investment properties in Boise, valued at $100,000 to $500,000 each. Risch also added a Washington, D.C., condominium to his assets in 2009, valued at $250,000 to $500,000.
Although Risch’s wealth increased in 2009 by about 2 percent, or $400,000, he also added about $380,000 in debts, including a mortgage valued at $250,000 to $500,000. He also disclosed a promissory note issued in 2007 from the Idaho Independent Bank valued at $250,000 to $500,000.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $19.90 million
After his stock portfolio took a big hit in 2008, Frelinghuysen reported his minimum wealth is up $1.75 million, which puts him up one spot from last year’s ranking. The majority of his wealth comes from trust funds and a slew of investments, most of which increased in value in 2009.
The Garden State lawmaker still holds $1 million in Procter & Gamble Co. stock, while two of his family trusts invest at least $6 million in the consumer goods giant. The investments that gained value in this year’s report include Exxon Mobil., Emerson Electric and Medtronic.
Frelinghuysen also owns unimproved lands in New Jersey and Massachusetts, which retained their combined minimum value of $350,000. He reported no liabilities.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $21.74 million
The Speaker saw her apparent net worth — based largely on her husband’s real estate and investment portfolio — nearly double last year, though much of that could be the effect of the oddities of Congressional disclosure rules.
In 2008, she reported assets worth at least $25.28 million, which increased to a minimum of $29.74 million in 2009, mostly because of the addition of two assets worth $1 million to $5 million — an investment fund specializing in Asian ventures and a United Football League team, though the football team is also listed as posting a loss of $1 million to $5 million.
But the minimum value of the Speaker’s liabilities dropped significantly in 2009. A mortgage on a vineyard that had been valued at more than $5 million is now listed as being worth $1 million to $5 million.
It is possible that the value of the liability only dropped from $5.1 million to $4.9 million, for example, but under Roll Call’s accounting method, the mortgage now counts as a $1 million liability instead of $5 million, and Pelosi’s overall liabilities dropped from $12.75 million to $8 million. Pelosi’s minimum net worth almost doubled, from $12.53 million in 2008 to $21.74 million in 2009.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $31.41 million
Grayson’s wealth was stable in 2009, although his largest asset remained a claim against the now-defunct Derivium Capital for at least $25 million.
A South Carolina court ruled in 2009 that Derivium owed its shareholders about $270 million in lost profits and that Grayson’s share would be about $34 million. The South Carolina firm managed a Ponzi scheme in which investors turned over stock to Derivium in exchange for cash loans and the right to redeem the value later if stock prices increased.
The Florida lawmaker also reported a trust valued at $5 million to $25 million. He listed no debts.
Minimum net worth: $46.07 million
As always, the vast majority of Feinstein’s assets are wrapped up in her husband’s myriad investment accounts, though she shares in several large assets, including an investment in Carlton Hotel Properties worth $5 million to $25 million.
Her husband’s portfolio added one major asset in 2009, a November purchase of more than $1 million worth of stock in Amyris Biotechnologies. In addition, several of his accounts showed increased value in holdings of the property management and brokerage firm CB Richard Ellis Group. The family also has two condominiums worth more than $1 million, one in Hawaii and one near Lake Tahoe.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $49.70 million
Lautenberg’s net wealth increased a bit from last year, but the more dramatic change is in the way he reported his assets.
The senator is wealthy in his own right — he founded the data-processing company ADP — but his wife also has significant assets from a range of trusts and real estate investments.
Lautenberg restructured his disclosure form this year to more clearly delineate which assets are his and which are his wife’s, which makes it difficult to compare this year’s form to last year’s.
Nevertheless, the total is a small upward trend, from a minimum value just more than $48 million to just shy of $50 million, with the purchase of several million dollars’ worth of bonds by one of his wife’s trusts.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $55.47 million
Buchanan boosted his minimum net worth by more than 11 percent in 2009 after reducing his debt by $3.75 million.
The Florida lawmaker, whose empire includes auto dealerships, real estate and investment accounts, reported paying off mortgages and lines of credit valued at a minimum of $4.25 million. He also dropped a $500,000 second mortgage on a Florida investment property and a $1 million loan tied to Suncoast Ford dealership from his annual report.
But Buchanan added a $1 million debt for the purchase of an Embraer Phenom aircraft and increased the debt tied to one of his auto dealerships by $500,000 to a minimum loan of $1 million.
Buchanan also reported transactions in his GenSpring Family Offices investment account that increased the fund’s value to more than $16 million in 2009 from about $13 million the previous year.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $56.49 million
Polis probably didn’t lose $15 million last year; the disclosure forms just make it look that way. A year ago, he reported having a Goldman Sachs bank deposit worth at least $25 million.
This year, he listed his Goldman Sachs deposit as down to a minimum value of $50,000, but he bought about a dozen new investments worth $1 million to $5 million each. For Roll Call’s tally, each of those counts as $1 million, though they could be worth five times that.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $70.19 million
Warner’s net worth appeared to slump about $2 million last year, but with really rich people, a couple million bucks is probably a rounding error.
Warner was a telecom mogul before he ran for public office, and his investment portfolio still indicates more than two dozen assets worth $1 million to $5 million each, but Roll Call rounds those all down to $1 million.
He also reported three investment funds worth at least $5 million each, but he had five a year earlier. In 2009, he made seven stock purchases worth more than $1 million and 12 stock sales worth more than $1 million.
Warner also trimmed the minimum net value of his liabilities from about $3.4 million in 2008 to about $1.4 million in 2009. Most of Warner’s assets are wrapped up in blind trusts that he does not directly control.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $73.75 million
McCaul once again claims the largest percentage increase in wealth among any Member on the list, nearly doubling his wealth between 2008 and 2009.
But it is unclear whether McCaul’s fortune really increased by nearly $36 million or whether it was simply a reporting glitch.
According to his disclosure report, McCaul’s spouse, Linda McCaul, owns a stake in “LLM Partners Ltd., Family Limited Partnership” valued at $25 million to $50 million.
She also reported a stake in “LLM Partners, Ltd., Invest in LLM Family Investments” valued at $25 million to $50 million.
But in his 2008 financial disclosure report, McCaul reported both of these assets under a single entity, valued at $25 million to $50 million.
Although it is possible the combined accounts were worth as much as $50 million in the previous year, Roll Call considers only the minimum value of each reported asset, or $25 million for its 2008 tally.
Because McCaul now reports the accounts as separate assets, he receives twice the credit — boosting his total by $25 million with a single account. McCaul’s minimum net worth has increased more than six-fold since his first financial disclosure report covering 2004, when his minimum net worth hovered around $12 million.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $81.50 million
The West Virginia senator, a descendant of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, saw his minimum net worth swell by about 1 percent in 2009.
Rockefeller’s wealth is concentrated in three blind trusts, with a combined minimum value of at least $80 million. The largest of those trusts, an account with JPMorgan Chase Bank in New York established in 1934, is valued at “over $50 million.”
Rockefeller’s spouse, Sharon Percy Rockefeller, the daughter of former Sen. Charles Percy (R-Ill.), owns “over $1 million” in PepsiCo stock, and the family listed another trust with Lincoln Financial Group valued at “over $1 million.”
She also reported two accounts that each increased to at least $1 million in 2009, including an investment fund previously valued at $500,000 to $1 million and the Rockefeller Group Equity Fund III, also previously valued at a minimum of $500,000.
The senator listed $5.05 million in debt from two loans, nearly all of which is attributable to one account from United National Bank valued at $5 million to $25 million.
Rockefeller continued to chip away at a smaller loan from JPMorgan Chase, which dropped in value to at least $50,000 in 2009 from at least $250,000 in 2008.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $152.62 million
While still short of the $225 million fortune she reported in 2007, Harman’s wealth appeared to rebound in 2009 by more than $40 million, or about 36 percent.
Harman’s fiscal recovery stems largely from an increase in the value of one of her husband’s holdings in Harman International Industries to more than $50 million. That account was valued at $25 million to $50 million in 2008.
Harman’s own holdings in her husband’s audio products company — which manufactures electronics under the brand names AKG Acoustics, Harman Kardon, Infinity and JBL — remained level at a value of at least $5 million.
In addition, Harman reported growth in the value of four family trusts to nearly $80 million, up from about $64 million in 2008.
Harman’s husband, Sidney Harman, bought Newsweek magazine from the Washington Post Co. in August, but that transaction is not included in Roll Call’s estimate because it is not reported on Rep. Harman’s 2009 disclosure form.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $160.05 million
The California lawmaker’s fortunes dipped slightly in 2009, but Issa nonetheless maintains his claim as the House’s richest Member.
According to his 2009 financial report, Issa cashed out a money market fund valued at more than $50 million. He reported buying numerous mutual funds, including 10 accounts valued at $5 million to $25 million and one investment account valued at $25 million to $50 million.
Issa also reported selling numerous municipal bonds, with a combined minimum value of $22 million.
But Issa, who founded Vista, Calif.-based Directed Electronics, which manufactures car alarms, maintains the bulk of his fortune in two corporations that own and operate office and industrial properties in California: DEI and Greene Properties, valued at more than $50 million and from $25 million to $50 million, respectively.
Issa also reported an investment in Viper, a similar real estate firm, valued at $5 million to $25 million and one new debt, a line of credit from Merrill Lynch valued at $1 million to $5 million.
By Roll Call
Minimum net worth: $188.37 million
It has become old hat: Kerry is the richest Member of Congress for the 13th time in the 15 years since his 1995 marriage to Teresa Heinz Kerry, widow of the late Sen. John Heinz (R-Pa.), the scion of the ketchup fortune.
The value of Kerry’s disclosed assets bounces between $200 million and $300 million each year, and his liabilities hang a little below $50 million. However, in various years other estimates have placed the family’s net worth at probably three times the value shown on congressional reports. Assets held in the name of a spouse can be reported as being worth “over $1 million” no matter how far over that number the actual value falls.
Kerry’s minimum net worth as reported in his 2009 financial disclosures ticked up to about $188 million, 12 percent higher than the previous year’s $168 million. The minimum value of one Heinz family bond fund rose from $42 million to $45 million, and the number of assets listed as being worth more than $1 million rose from 129 to 141, which is still shy of the 180 assets in this category that Kerry reported for 2007.
The senator also trimmed the minimum value of his liabilities from $47 million to $44 million.
By Roll Call