Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Senate Procures Influx of Millionaires

The Senate’s famed “millionaires club” is becoming a little crowded.

According to a Roll Call analysis of Senate financial disclosure forms filed in 2010, more than half of the chamber’s membership, 54 lawmakers, reported a minimum net worth of more than $1 million. Another four Senators fell short of that mark by less than $100,000.

In addition, more than half of the Senate’s membership saw their individual fortunes grow in 2009, the period covered by their most recent disclosure reports.

Those increases are reflected in the chamber’s combined minimum wealth, which increased to about $680 million in 2009, or more than 4 percent higher than the previous year.

Roll Call’s analysis of Senators’ wealth is based solely on the information lawmakers provide in their annual reports. The minimum value of all liabilities is subtracted from the minimum value for all assets.

Among the Senators who tallied the largest percentage increases in wealth in 2009, several lawmakers benefited from inheritances.

Sen. John Cornyn reported four new investment funds and a retirement account valued at a combined $96,000, inherited from his mother. The additional funds increased his minimum net worth 550 percent, to at least $130,000.

Despite his significant percentage increase, the Texas Republican is among the 10 poorest Senators, tied with Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) in 90th place.

Sen. Sherrod Brown saw his bottom line increase to $370,000, nearly 429 percent over the minimum net worth of $70,000 he disclosed in his previous report.

That increase results from an uptick in the value of the Ohio Democrat’s investment in the Mansfield, Ohio-based Brownlea Farm, which rose to at least $250,000. He had previously valued his investment in his family farm, which he first began reporting in 1992, at $15,000.

According to his office, Brown’s family had the farm reappraised in 2009 following the death of his mother. An amendment Brown filed in May states he should have previously reported his share of the farm at the higher value.

Along with another amendment Brown filed in March reevaluating his investment in his state’s pension plan, the Ohio Senator’s minimum net worth for 2008 would have been reported at $384,000.

His current $370,000 net worth places him 77th among his colleagues, tied with Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.).

Sen. Jeff Sessions, whose mother also died in 2009, reported an increased value in several properties, noting in his report that the parcels are being appraised as part of his mother’s estate.

The Alabama Republican reported the value of the largest asset, 1,100 acres of timberland, at $1 million to $5 million.

He also reported 500 acres of farmland in Wilcox County, Ala., valued at $500,000 to $1 million. He previously reported a half-interest in the same property, valuing it at $250,000 to $500,000. The report also lists three other tracts of Alabama timberland comprising another 63 acres.

Sessions’ minimum net worth increased 124 percent from $1 million to at least $2.24 million in 2009. He is now the 33rd wealthiest Member of the Senate, tied with Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.).

Both Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) also reported gains of at least 100 percent — catapulting both lawmakers out of the red after each reported a negative net worth the previous calendar year.

Baucus no longer reports a $100,000 line of credit from Sun Trust Bank, increasing his net worth to about $10,000.

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