- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2014

Who dares sling the label, do-nothing Congress? More than half of current members are now millionaires – a historical first, the Center for Responsive Politics reported.

Of the 534 who currently hold congressional seats, at least 268 tout an average net worth of $1 million or more, the CRP said. And that’s for 2012. The list could have grown in recent months, the organization suggested.

Either way, this is history in making. The Millionaires Club on Capitol Hill has never included more than 50 percent of congressional members, CRP said, in a written statement.

“Last year, only 257 members, or about 48 percent of lawmakers, had a media net worth of at least $1 million,” CRP said, in its online statement. “Members of Congress have long been far wealthier than the typical American, but the fact that now a majority of members – albeit just a hair over 50 percent – are millionaires represents a watershed moment at a time when lawmakers are debating issues like unemployment benefits, food stamps and the minimum wage, which affect people with far fewer resources, as well as considering an overhaul of the tax code.”

Democrats as a group lead in terms of net worth, with a median of $1.04 million, CRP said. Republicans, by contrast, had a median net worth of almost $1 million on the dot. Last year, Democrats touts $990,000 and Republicans, $907,000.

And broken down further: “The median net worth for all House members was $896,000 – that’s up from $856,000 in 2011,” CRP said. House Democrats had a median net worth of $929,000 versus House Republicans, at $884,000.

“Similarly,” CRP said, “the median net worth for all senators increased to $2.7 million from $2.5 million, but in that body it was the Republicans who were better off. Senate Democrats reported a median net worth of $1.7 million (a decline from 2011’s $2.4 million) compared to Senate Republicans, at $2.9 million (an increase from $2.5 million).”

Senate Democrats “were the only group reporting a drop in their median net worth from the prior year,” CRP reported. But that’s due in part to the departure of two of the party’s wealthiest: John Kerry, now secretary of state, and Frank Lautenberg, who died. Mr. Kerry touted $248 million; Mr. Lautenberg, $87.5 million, CRP said.

The richest overall in Congress: Rep. Darrell Issa, “who made his fortune in the car alarm business,” and who had an average net worth of $464 million in 2012, CRP said.

Conversely, the least wealthy was Rep. David Valadao, with an average net worth of negative $12.1 million, CRP said. Moreover, “that’s actually a big improvement from 2011, when his average net worth was negative $19 million,” CRP said, explaining that his debt seems to stem from debt tied to loans on his family dairy farm.


• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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