Everything is bigger in Texas, including the bank accounts.
According to Roll Call’s annual survey of Member wealth, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) is now the richest Member of Congress, with a fortune worth at least $294 million, a vast increase over last year that was apparently the result of large transfers from his in-laws.
The Texas lawmaker topples Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) from the No. 1 position, who reported a minimum net worth of $193 million on his most recent financial disclosure report and is now the third richest Member of Congress.
McCaul also leapfrogged Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who remains the second richest Member of Congress, with a reported fortune of more than $220 million.
Roll Call reviewed the annual financial disclosure reports of all House and Senate lawmakers to determine the 50 Richest Members of Congress, as it has done each year since 1990. To calculate minimum net worth, Roll Call adds the minimum value of all assets and subtracts the total minimum value of all liabilities.
While the reports detail Members’ assets — bank accounts, stocks and rental properties — as well as liabilities such as mortgages, student loans and credit card debts, the forms are an imperfect measure of individual wealth. Members are not required to disclose a host of other holdings, including their personal homes or federal retirement savings accounts.
The entry price to Congress’ most exclusive club rose to $6 million in calendar year 2010, the period covered by the most recent reports, up from about $5.5 million the previous year.
McCaul has appeared on Roll Call’s list since his election to the House, when his report for the 2004 calendar year showed a minimum net worth of around $12 million.
But his wealth has grown exponentially since then, nearly doubling from 2008 to 2009 and increasing again by nearly 300 percent from 2009 to 2010.
McCaul ranked fifth among last year’s class of richest lawmakers, with a minimum net worth of at least $73.75 million.
The lion’s share of McCaul’s wealth is held by his wife, Linda McCaul, the daughter of Clear Channel Communications CEO and founder Lowry Mays, and his dramatic rise in net worth appears to be the product of generational wealth transfer.
A footnote to McCaul’s newest report notes that “certain assets” owned by his spouse were “acquired via a gift from spouse’s parents.” The accounts were not identified.
On his financial disclosure, McCaul lists a new asset owned by his wife, the Linda McCaul Descendant Trusts, valued at more than $50 million. According to his report, that trust is invested in several other family partnerships.
McCaul likewise added two trusts under the ownership of his dependent children, including one trust valued at $25 million to $50 million and another at $1 million to $5 million.
Another of Linda McCaul’s investment accounts also appears to double in value, moving from a minimum worth of $25 million to a minimum of $50 million.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.