Morning Business: Room at the Top

Posted November 14, 2008 at 5:43pm

When Democrat Jared Polis (Colo.) is sworn into the House next year, it will be as a lowly freshman lawmaker, but there’s at least one place where he may soon claim seniority.

[IMGCAP(1)]With six current members of Roll Call’s “50 Richest Members of Congress” departing in January, the list will accept new inductees, and Polis ranks at the top of a handful of House and Senate freshman lawmakers who are strong contenders.

According to financial disclosure forms filed with the Clerk of the House, Polis’ minimum net worth amounts to about $95.7 million.

Polis, an Internet entrepreneur, started his first company — American Information Systems — while still in college and later sold it for more than $20 million. He expanded his family’s Blue Mountain Arts greeting card and publishing business online, and he later sold the company in 1999 for a reported $780 million.

Candidates file financial disclosure forms similar to the annual forms filed by Members. The forms are not an exact source, however, excluding assets such as personal property that is not held for investment purposes.

Other potential freshman additions to the “50 Richest” include Sen.-elect Mark Warner (D-Va.), estimated net worth $90.8 million; Rep.-elect Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), $29 million; Sen.-elect Jim Risch (R-Idaho), $20.2 million; Rep.-elect Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), $17.2 million; Rep.-elect Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), $11.2 million; Sen.-elect Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), $8 million; Rep.-elect Parker Griffith (D-Ala.), $7.4 million; Rep.-elect Harry Teague (D-N.M.), $6.3 million; and Rep.-elect Betsy Markey (D-Colo.), $5.3 million.

The most recent top 50 list bottomed out at $5 million.