The economy may be sputtering, but 2010 appears to have been a good year for the financial portfolios of Members of Congress, whose annual financial disclosure forms were released Wednesday. Some highlights:
• Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) appears to have become the richest Member of Congress, overtaking Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who has topped the list since 2008. Issa reported a minimum net worth of $220 million, an almost $60 million jump over last year. The huge change appears to be the result of Issa moving several real estate assets out of a single account and into separate corporate entities, requiring the values of the buildings to be reported separately and creating an apparent increase in wealth.
• Don’t cry for Kerry: According to his latest financial disclosure form, Kerry’s minimum net worth is about $193 million, a slight increase over the $188 million fortune he reported in 2009. Kerry — who married into the Heinz ketchup fortune — may still be the wealthier Member because his wife holds most of the assets and lawmakers are to report spousal assets in a special category labeled “over $1 million.” With no upper limit in those categories, it is impossible to know what the Kerry-Heinz family is worth, but Forbes magazine estimated Teresa Heinz Kerry’s net worth at more than $1 billion in 2008.
• House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saw her reported net worth jump from $21.7 million last year to $35.2 million this year. The change is largely the result of three of Pelosi’s husband’s investments — two office buildings and a United Football League team — rising in value from a $1 million minimum value to a $5 million minimum value. The change may boost Pelosi into the top 10 richest Members of the 112th Congress.
• Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reported increased wealth on the strength of a jump in value of 160 acres of land in Bullhead City, Ariz. The land was previously valued at $250,000 to $500,000; Reid now reports it is worth $1 million to $5 million. Reid has been criticized in the past for supporting an earmark to build a bridge in the area that could enhance the value of his land.
• Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was a newcomer to the 50 richest club in 2008 on the strength of a $5 million gift from the father of his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. But he has done well with the money. His reported assets in 2010 were at least $9.8 million, up about $2.7 million over the prior year.
• Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reported a minimum net worth of $2.1 million in 2010, an increase over his reported $1.75 million total in 2009.
– Alex Knott, Niels Lesniewski, Paul Singer and Jennifer Yachnin
Leaders from military and veterans service organizations joined Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Kelly Ayotte , R-N.H., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at a press conference to urge the Senate to replace a provision in the budget proposal that cuts retirement benefits for veterans. Wicker, Ayotee, and Graham earlier called for a bipartisan solution to replace the $6.3 billion in cuts to military retiree benefits.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.