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10 'Poorest' Members of Congress Owe Big

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Valadao is the “poorest” member of Congress.

Members of the second-most-exclusive club in Congress don’t reside in the poor house, but unlike the 50 richest members, the 10 “poorest” are seriously in debt.

Eight Democrats and two Republicans ranked at the bottom of the list of the 535 lawmakers in the House and Senate in our annual calculations for the 50 Richest project. These dairy farmers, lawyers, business owners and lifetime public officials have significant assets and might actually be considered wealthy by some, but they have the smallest minimum net worths because they all hold massive debts and liabilities of at least $500,000, including obligations such as mortgages on multiple homes, overdue taxes and legal fees.

1. David Valadao: -$4.10 million

Valadao, a California Republican who bears the dubious distinction of being poorest this year, actually lists more than $1 million in assets. The dairy farmer reports only three assets: his two family farms with a combined worth of at least $1.25 million and a bank account worth more than $1,000. His $5.35 million in liabilities are all farm-related, including a $1 million mortgage and multimillion-dollar lines of credit on the farm, its operating herd and animal feed.

2. Alcee L. Hastings: -$2.23 million

A lawyer and former federal judge, Hastings is still paying off legal fees of more than $2 million that he incurred in a trial on charges of bribery while he was serving on a U.S. district court. The Florida Democrat was acquitted of the charges in 1983, but a federal panel later concluded he had lied and fabricated evidence. By 1989, he was removed from the court after votes by the House and Senate. He holds one other liability, a mortgage of more than $100,000 on his personal home that is comparable to the median home value for his district — $106,000.

3. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: -$1.04 million

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Wasserman Schultz has spent most of her career in political office, starting as a state legislator in her home state of Florida. She has two mortgages with a combined worth of at least $750,000, plus $350,000 in home equity and personal loans. She also carried more than $50,000 in credit card debt in 2012. Her assets include a spouse-held $100,000 stock in the community bank where her husband works and several small bank accounts including college savings plans for her children.

4. Howard “Buck” McKeon: -$943,000

Before Congress, McKeon helped operate his family’s now-closed chain of Western-style clothing stores. The California Republican owes more than $1 million combined on two mortgages for homes in his district and Alexandria, Va., and has only $67,000 in assets composed of bank and life insurance accounts.

5. Rubén Hinojosa: -$808,000

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