Roll Call’s 50 Richest Members of Congress for 2014
They invested in an Italian soccer team, an aquaculture business, Subway sandwich franchises, the ride-share phenomenon Uber and good old blue chip stocks and bonds.
The richest members of Congress found myriad ways to get wealthier in 2013, CQ Roll Call’s annual survey of congressional wealth shows.
It took a minimum reported net worth of at least $7.4 million just to crack the exclusive 50 Richest club, up from $6.7 million when we did the project one year ago. Many lawmakers’ portfolios shrugged off the effects of a government shutdown, the civil war in Syria and the botched rollout of the health care law to ride a wave that sent the Dow Jones industrial average to its biggest gain in 18 years.
The 50 Richest won’t set new standards for diversity. All are white. Women comprise 18 percent. There were 20 Democrats and 30 Republicans.
Although Republicans took the top two spots this year, Democrats filled out the rest of the top 10. Fifteen are senators, 35 are representatives. And the list is dominated by veteran members such as seven-term California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, the wealthiest lawmaker, whose car-alarm fortune and high-yield bonds drove his net worth to more than $357 million and earned him the No. 1 spot for the second year in a row.
No. 3 on the list, Democratic Rep. John Delaney of Maryland increased his net worth by more than 60 percent.
That’s not to say everyone prospered. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., registered a year-to-year dropoff in net worth of more than $20 million, though the actual decline could have been far less given the wide asset value ranges allowed by the reporting system, and an amendment he filed to his 2012 report.
Lawmakers are required to file annual disclosure forms revealing such details as stock market holdings, real estate investments, bank accounts, credit card balances, student loans and other assets and liabilities.
Since 1990, CQ Roll Call has dedicated enormous newsroom time and talent to review the annual financial disclosure reports filed by all House and Senate lawmakers to calculate the 50 Richest members of Congress.
Their minimum net worth is determined by subtracting the total minimum value of all liabilities from the total minimum value of all assets.
The system provides an incomplete picture because valuations are reported in broad categories spanning millions of dollars, making it impossible to ascertain a lawmaker’s precise net worth unless he or she opts to voluntarily break down actual dollar amounts. Few do. Members also are exempted from disclosing the value of personal residences or federal retirement savings accounts.
What the forms do reveal is an unusual variety of ways to get rich, or to try.
Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Fla., is the lone congressional newcomer to the list. The June special-election winner and former automotive executive banked at least $250,000 in Italian soccer powerhouse AS Roma.
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., among the youngest members of the financial elite, has a stake of at least $1 million in the world’s only venture capital firm devoted to fish farming, Aquacopia, with more invested in Uber and Japanese senior housing.
A total of 44 of the 50 wealthiest members appeared on last year’s list. Six members dropped off: Republican Reps. Steve Daines of Montana, Blake Farenthold of Texas, Bill Flores of Texas, Robert Pittenger of North Carolina and Fred Upton of Michigan, and Democrat Bill Foster of Illinois.
The median household net worth in the United States stood at $68,828 in 2011, with 69 percent of households holding some form of debt, according to the most recent U.S. Census statistics.
Visit our interactive database to see the data and learn about what changed in the portfolios of the 50 Richest this year.
Correction, Sept. 8, 1:10 p.m. Due to a data-entry error discovered after publication, Nancy Pelosi’s minimum net worth was incorrectly reported as $74.11 million. Her home/vineyard in Napa, Calif., was listed with a minimum net worth of $50,000,001. It is actually worth between $5,000,001 and $25,000,000. She is now No. 14 on our list.
Video Profiles of 10 Richest
50 Richest Interactive
10 ‘Poorest’ Members of Congress
Video Profiles of ‘Poorest’ Members
Methodology Video Explainer
Inside Roll Call: Why we Tackle #50Richest
Really Rich and Endangered: 50 Richest on the Ballot
50 Richest Archives
Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat
Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.