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Frosh Could Join ‘50 Richest’

Last week’s elections have created room in one of Washington, D.C.’s most exclusive clubs: Six members of Roll Call’s “50 Richest Members of Congress” will be gone in January.

But fear not — the freshman class of 2009 is bringing reinforcements who appear ready to join the high-rollers on the Hill.

Candidates for Congress file financial disclosure forms that are similar to the annual disclosure forms filed by Members and that carry some of the same caveats. Personal property that is not held for investment purposes — such as second homes — is not disclosed, and the value of each asset is recorded in broad categories that make it impossible to estimate net worth with any precision.

Nevertheless, the disclosure forms do offer a way to compare relative worth of Members, providing a glimpse of some incoming Members who may be worth more than $5 million, which was the minimum for membership in the most recent top 50 list.

The departing Members on the list are: Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.), whose minimum net worth of about $79 million made him the fifth-richest Member last year, but was not enough to win re-election; Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.), who lost re- election by a razor-thin margin, but gets to keep the $29 million that made him the 10th-richest Member; Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.), who lost her seat as well as her spot as 19th on the list with $16 million; Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), who gave up his House seat and 31st place at $8 million in an unsuccessful bid for the Senate; Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) who retired, taking about $6 million in net worth that qualified him for 45th place; and Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who was No. 50 on the list with $5 million until he agreed last week to become chief of staff to President-elect Obama.

The following new Members all filed candidate financial disclosure forms indicating minimum net worth of more than $5 million.

Some of these new Members may not make Roll Call’s next “50 Richest” list, as the portfolios of other Members grow and as the new Members sell off assets in the process of making the transition from private life to public office.

Sen.-elect Mark Warner (D-Va.)

$90.8 million

Warner, who replaces Sen. John Warner, made his fortune as a co-founder of Nextel telecommunications company and investment in Columbia Capital, a technology venture capital fund.

Among his holdings, Warner is the beneficiary of the MRW Trust, established after his election to the Virginia governor’s office in 2001. That fund remained a blind trust until his term ended in 2006.

The trust includes a money market account valued at $5 million to $25 million, as well as numerous U.S. Treasury notes, including nine valued at $1 million to $5 million. An investment in the Longleaf Partners Mutual Fund is also valued at $5 million to $25 million.

Warner also holds an investment worth from $5 million to $25 million in Columbia Capital Investors.

According to a statement issued by Warner’s Senate campaign office, the Virginian estimates his net worth at about $200 million.

Rep.-elect Alan Grayson (D-Fla.)

$29 million

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