News & Politics

A Majority of Congress Is Worth More Than $1 Million

For the first time ever, the median net worth for members of Congress is seven figures.

Why is this man smiling? Maybe because he and 267 of his colleagues are worth at least a cool million. Photograph by Flickr user Gage Skidmore.

There’s a new term to describe a majority of Congress: millionaires.

According to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics of personal financial statements filed by all 534 current members, more than half had a personal net worth of more than $1 million in 2012.

Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican, tops the ranks of Congress’s 268 millionaires with an average net worth of $464 million, a fortune amassed from his time in the car-alarm industry. No. 2 is Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat and former technology investor worth more than $257 million. Maryland’s delegation is led by Representative John Delaney, a first-term Democrat from Potomac with more than $155 million, good for fourth place on the overall list.

DC’s Eleanor Holmes Norton is also in the millionaires’ club, with an average net worth of $1.9 million in 2012.

Although the reallity of members of Congress being wealthier than the people they represent is nothing new, the Center for Responsive Politics calls the millionaire majority a “watershed moment,” especially in light of the current legislative fight over extended unemployment benefits, as well as future debates over food stamps and the minimum wage.

“Despite the fact that polls show how dissatisfied Americans are with Congress overall, there’s been no change in our appetite to elect affluent politicians to represent our concerns in Washington,” Sheila Krumholz, the center’s executive director, says in the report.

The median net worth for all members of Congress was $1.04 million. The median was $896,000 for House members and $2.7 million for senators. House Democrats, with a median worth of $929,000, are a bit better off than their Republican counterparts, who have a median worth of $884,000. The effect is reversed in the Senate, where Republicans median of $2.9 million is well above the Democrats’ $1.7 million.

The ten richest members of Congress:

  1. Representative Darrell Issa$464,115,018
  2. Senator Mark Warner, $257,481,658
  3. Representative Jared Polis, $197,945,705
  4. Representative John Delaney, $197,945,705
  5. Representative Michael McCaul, $143,153,910
  6. Representative Scott Peters, $112,467,040
  7. Senator Richard Blumenthal, $103,803,192
  8. Senator Jay Rockefeller, $101,290,514
  9. Representative Vern Buchanan, $88,802,066
  10. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, $87,997,030

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.