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The 50 Richest Members of the 112th Congress (2012)

By Amanda Becker

Click here to see the 50 richest members of Congress.

Familiar names top Roll Call's annual survey of Congressional wealth.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is the richest Member of Congress for the second year in a row, reporting a vast fortune that in 2011 had a minimum net worth surpassing $300 million for the first time.

McCaul is followed by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who reported a minimum net worth of $198.65 million, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who reported a minimum net worth of $140.55 million. The two lawmakers swapped places since last year's list.

The lawmakers who round out the top five, Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), also flipped positions from 2010 to 2011, with Warner's reported minimum worth rising about $9 million to $85.81 million and Rockefeller's minimum worth rising slightly to $83.08 million.

Since 1990, Roll Call has reviewed the annual financial disclosure reports filed by all House and Senate lawmakers to calculate the 50 richest Members of Congress. Their minimum net worth is determined by subtracting the total minimum value of all liabilities from the total minimum value of all assets.

The annual disclosure forms show information about lawmakers' assets and liabilities, including stock-market holdings, rental properties, checking accounts, credit card balances, student loans and other financial obligations. Even so, the details provide an incomplete picture of overall wealth.

Though lawmakers report the value of mutual funds, bank accounts and other assets, they are not required to disclose federal retirement savings accounts. And while they had to include mortgages on personal residences for the first time this year, they did not have to report the value of those properties as assets.

All assets and liabilities are also listed in broad ranges spanning millions of dollars, making it impossible to arrive at a lawmaker's exact minimum net worth.

Some lawmakers chose to provide more precise valuations of their assets and liabilities, and Roll Call used that information whenever possible to arrive at a more accurate figure of wealth.

One theme that emerged on this year's list is that about half of Congress' wealthiest lawmakers reported having a lower minimum net worth than the year before. Though in most cases the difference was negligible, some lawmakers reported a precipitous drop. Issa's reported minimum net worth in 2011 was about $80 million less than in 2010. Rep. Kenny Marchant's (R-Texas) reported net worth dropped by more than a third. Some of the apparent lost wealth can likely be attributed to the new mortgage disclosure requirement.

Though McCaul, Kerry, Issa, Warner and Rockefeller kept a lock on the top five spots, there was movement elsewhere on the list.

One notable newcomer is Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), who saw her minimum net worth increase from about $500,000 in 2010 to $28.58 million in 2011 after her marriage to financier Donald Sussman.

Others who broke into the top 50 this year were Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who even made it into the top half.

Lawmakers who dropped off the list include Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.).

You can also visit previous editions of 50 Richest lists.

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  1. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) $305.46 Million

    • Assets

      $305.96 Million
    • Liabilities

      $0.50 Million
    • Change


    McCaul tops Roll Call's list of the 50 Richest Members of Congress for the second year in a row with a reported minimum net worth that broke the $300 million mark.

    The lawyer and former federal prosecutor has placed high on our annual survey since he arrived on Capitol Hill in 2005. But his minimum net worth has skyrocketed while in the House, from $12 million that year to $305.46 million in 2011, according to his most recent disclosure form.

    The value of McCaul's fortune rose sharply in 2010 when the Congressman reported that his wife, Linda McCaul, had received "certain assets" as gifts from her parents. As a result, McCaul's reported net worth jumped from at least $73.75 million in 2009 to at least $294 million in 2010, according to Roll Call's prior assessments.

    Linda McCaul is the daughter of Clear Channel Communications Inc. CEO and founder Lowry Mays. Many of the McCaul family's most valuable assets are held by his wife and in trusts associated with her family.

    McCaul's only reported liability is a Bank of America mortgage of $500,000 to $1 million on his personal residence.

  2. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) $198.65 Million

  3. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) $140.55 Million

  4. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) $85.81 Million

  5. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) $83.08 Million

  6. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) $79.11 Million

  7. Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) $72.09 Million

  8. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) $56.80 Million

  9. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) $41.78 Million

  10. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Ohio) $36.67 Million

  11. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.) $36.49 Million

  12. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) $28.58 Million

  13. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) $26.43 Million

  14. Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) $24.79 Million

  15. Rep. Rick Berg (R-N.D.) $23.78 Million

  16. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) $21.73 Million

  17. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) $19.63 Million

  18. Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) $19.09 Million

  19. Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) $17.41 Million

  20. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) $15.57 Million

  21. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) $14.95 Million

  22. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) $14.47 Million

  23. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) $14.34 Million

  24. Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.) $13.69 Million

  25. Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) $12.34 Million

  26. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) $12.00 Million

  27. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) $11.60 Million

  28. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) $10.75 Million

  29. Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) $10.33 Million

  30. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) $10.20 Million

  31. Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) $10.06 Million

  32. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) $10.05 Million

  33. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) $10.01 Million

  34. Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) $9.53 Million

  35. Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) $9.17 Million

  36. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) $9.01 Million

  37. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) $8.95 Million

  38. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) $8.94 Million

  39. Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) $8.93 Million

  40. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) $8.81 Million

  41. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) $8.41 Million

  42. Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) $7.69 Million

  43. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) $7.65 Million

  44. Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) $7.48 Million

  45. Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) $7.10 Million

  46. Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) $6.94 Million

  47. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) $6.72 Million

  48. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) $6.47 Million

  49. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) $6.28 Million

  50. Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) $6.14 Million

Voluntary Disclosures Show Limits of Reporting Process

For the more than three decades that Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner has been in Congress, the Wisconsin Republican has voluntarily revealed his precise net worth.

The 17-term Congressman entered into the Congressional Record in June the detailed values of assets that included stocks and a stamp collection. His self-reported net worth of nearly $10.20 million was roughly double the minimum net worth that could be calculated using the information about his assets provided on his annual financial disclosure form. The extra information earned him a spot among Congress' wealthiest Members.

"Congressman Sensenbrenner has done this every year because he believes Members have an obligation to avoid conflicts of interest while serving in Congress. Accountability to his constituents is a top priority for him so he files his disclosure down to the penny," spokeswoman Amanda Infield said.

Sensenbrenner wasn't the only lawmaker this year who opted to provide more detailed information than is required. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Reps. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), Jim Renacci (R-Ohio), Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) and Tom Price (R-Ga.) were among others who voluntarily disclosed the precise values of assets in their portfolios in addition to, or instead of, using the broad ranges provided on the standard disclosure form.

The growing number of lawmakers who are opting to provide more detailed information about their finances illuminates the limitations of deciphering holdings using the annual mandatory disclosure process.

In parentheses under the last asset on Johnson's 2011 financial disclosure form, the Wisconsin Republican opted to list the assessed value of commercial real estate he owns in his hometown of Oshkosh as $4,487,300. It was just seven extra digits on a form that detailed assets worth millions of dollars. But its inclusion raised his minimum net worth to 150 percent of the minimum net worth that could be calculated using the broad value ranges of assets and liabilities on the form. It catapulted the Senator about 20 spots higher on Roll Call's list of the richest Members of Congress.

Each year, Roll Call calculates lawmakers' minimum net worth by subtracting total minimum liabilities from total minimum assets. The values of both assets and liabilities are given within broad ranges on the forms. Roll Call uses the lower end of each value range.

Marchant's financial disclosure form listed his assets within ranges as required. But he also included nearly 2,000 pages of attached brokerage statements and account summaries that showed that the Texan's true wealth is at least several million dollars more than would otherwise be apparent on his House filing.

Price likewise attached statements for a handful of investment accounts, some of which are the Georgia lawmaker's most valuable assets. Substituting the precise values of those accounts for the ranges listed on his form added nearly $2 million to his minimum net worth.

The practice of reporting assets and liabilities within ranges is not the only filing practice that makes it difficult to assess lawmakers' wealth. Many in Congress, including some of the wealthiest, derive much of their fortune from their spouse. The assets of spouses and dependent children, however, can be lumped into a catch-all category of "over $1 million," regardless of whether they're worth $1.1 million or $50 million.

A new requirement in the STOCK Act, signed this year, requires lawmakers to report the value of mortgages on personal residences but doesn't require them to include the same property as an asset unless it generates income. Though some Members voluntarily disclosed the value of their personal residence, the rule skewed the minimum net worth of those who did not by millions of dollars in some cases.

Janie Lorber, Adriel Bettelheim, Kate Ackley, Rebecca Baird-Remba, Sara Bondioli, Eliza Newlin Carney, Scott Campbell, Emily Cahn, Grace Dobush, Nora Grenfell, Jay Hunter, Cyra Master, Tait Militana, Alex Muller and Emily Ortman contributed to this report.

Correction: The article has been updated to reflect Sen. Frank Lautenberg's mortgages. An earlier version incorrectly stated the addresses of those properties. The Columbus, Ohio and Simi Valley, Calif. addresses used were of his creditors.




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