Congress is rich. How rich? On Monday, Roll Call released its annual analysis of financial-disclosure forms, identifying the 50 richest members of Congress, and this isn’t an easy club to get into—it takes a minimum net worth of $7.4 million to crack this year’s list. So who has the most Benjamins? Darrell, Nancy, or Mitch? Here's what the list tells us about our legislators.
Members of Congress are way wealthier than average Americans.
For the second year in a row, Representative Darrell Issa tops the lot with a net worth of $357.25 million, largely the result of his spectacular success at manufacturing car alarms. Issa’s wealth is triple that of second-placed Michael McCaul ($117.54 million). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi placed third ($74.11 million), while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, with net assets totaling $11.97 million, slots in at number 32.
In 2012, the Center for Responsive Politics found that the median congressman was worth more than one million dollars. In an era when it costs an average of more than $10 million to win a seat, it’s no surprise that the wealthy and well-connected would be overrepresented. Nor is congressional wealth a new phenomenon.
But the number of multimillionaires in the Capitol, along with the well-documented rise of income inequality in recent decades, contribute to the perception that politicians are out of touch with average Americans’ needs. The GOP candidate for Senator in Georgia, former Dollar General CEO David Perdue, was accused by a primary opponent’s campaign manager of failing to understand “this is an election, not an auction.” In Kentucky, Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes has criticized Mitch McConnell for quadrupling “his net worth on the backs of Kentuckians that can’t afford it.”