After years hovering near the top of the table, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., took the No. 1 spot on the 50 Richest list on the strength of holdings that swelled about $135 million in value. He supplanted Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who occupied the perch the previous two years and took an apparent “paper loss” by valuing several of his wife’s holdings, previously listed as worth at least $50 million, in the broad category of $1 million and above that’s reserved for spousal assets. Several longtime denizens of the 50 Richest fell off the list. Ex-Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., left Congress for the State Department, while Sens. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Ben Nelson, D-Neb., retired. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., lost a Senate bid. And Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., died in June.
A total of 37 of the 50 wealthiest members appeared on last year’s list. Eight others were freshmen.
Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., was the richest first-termer in the House, with a net worth of $68 million, primarily from his financial firm. Former Microsoft executive Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., was the richest woman in the freshman class, with a net worth of almost $24 million. Another noteworthy newcomer is Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-Mass., at No. 23, with almost all of his $15 million fortune connected to several family trusts.
Democratic Reps. Bill Foster of Illinois and Alan Grayson of Florida are back on the list after returning to Congress. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., rebounded after just failing to make the 50 Richest cut last year.
One of the biggest gainers in reported wealth last year was Louisiana Republican Rep. John Fleming, who climbed more than 50 spots to make the list for the first time in his congressional career. His Minden, La.-based real estate company, JCF Properties, increased in value from the $1 million to $5 million category to the $5 million to $25 million range.
More than a decade into his second stint in the House, Tennessee Democrat Jim Cooper doubled his net worth last year to $8 million. His share of the Cooper Brothers Land Partnership that owns farmland in Tennessee and Kentucky was worth $5.7 million. Last year, the same asset was listed in the $1 million to $5 million range.
An earlier version of the article misstated the location of JCF Properties.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.