2010 banner year for some of the richest members of Congress.


The Hill recently reported that “2010 was a banner year for many well-heeled members of Congress … [who] saw gains of millions of dollars in their fortunes. … the 50 wealthiest lawmakers reported a [combined] minimum net worth of $1.6 billion, about $200 million more than the lawmakers who appeared on 2010’s list.”

The Hill’s list is timely as corporate donations to lawmakers is overshadowing personal wealth a bit; especially for candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Accepting large corporate donations generally means lawmakers will respond with lucrative tax breaks and subsidies and a loosening of pesky rules and regulations for corporate donors. No doubt, this makes for a good campaign stomp speech against one’s opponent. Personal wealth disclosure — especially for those whose wealth increased when the economy is struggling to right itself — is equally important.

This list is an opportunity for ordinary citizens to look at how lawmakers’ achieve their financial success and then compare it to what they do in Congress. Namely, what kind of legislation they support and whether their vote improves the quality of life for their constituents or focuses on the bottom line of their personal financial interests. Historic tax cuts and subsidies for the wealthiest and for big corporations juxtaposed with high unemployment (especially for people of color), radical cuts to and defunding of vital programs (education, science, NOAA, FEMA, Medicare, Social Security) looming in the future, makes such a comparison a vital exercise.

In addition, the rhetoric we are exposed to is that the country is bankrupt, spending by the Obama administration is out of control, government is bad (claimed by some who govern) and Social Security needs to be done away with. Considering Congress is maintaining an 80+ disapproval rating, the American people aren’t buying into this.

As mentioned above, most lawmakers on the list saw a boost in their personal wealth in 2010, including a few freshman Republicans (with strong Tea Party support) who made out quite nicely with their auto dealerships representing the bulk of their financial worth. No doubt, the President’s bailout of the auto industry had something to do with that. Many have done well with commercial and private real estate — despite the housing market bust in 2007 and 2008.

I’ve included the list below and encourage everyone to check for your lawmaker and then come up with your own litmus test based on what you’ve been told by that person and what realities exist in your home town or district. If your senator or representative is not listed, you can find the same information at OpenSecrets.org. This website has both personal wealth and campaign donations. The list below shows the name, state and party, personal worth in millions and what represents the bulk of their wealth.

  • Rep. Michael McCaul R-TX $287 M: Family Trusts, companies and gifts from spouse’s family
  • Rep. Darrell Issa R-CA $220.4 M: Commercial Real Estate & Property Management, founded Directed Electronics, largest manufacturer of car security systems nationwide
  • Sen. John Kerry D-MA $193.3 M: Investments, Spouse’s Holdings (Heinz)
  • Sen. Jay Rockefeller D-W. VA $81.6 M: Family Trusts (JP Morgan Chase, Wachovia) Stock investments
  • Sen. Mark Warner D-VA $76.3 M: Former Venture Capitalist (Tech Cos.), Current assets tied to Columbia Capital Tech
  • Rep. Jared Polis D-CO $65.9 M Former Tech Entrepeneur, Investments in Tech and Internet Start-ups
  • Sen. Frank Lautenberg D-NJ $55.1 M: Co-founded Automatic Data Processing, Commercial and Private Real Estate Investments CT, FL, HI, NY
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal D-CT Freshman $54.9 M: Real Estate, Investment Funds and Trusts
  • Sen. Dianne Fienstein D-CA $45.4 M: Investment Stocks, Commercial Real Estate
  • Rep. Vern Buchanan R-FL $44.4 M: Auto Dealerships, Investments
  • Rep. Jim Renacci R-OH $35.9 M: Former Businessman, (Nursing Homes), Investment Stocks including Walt Disney Co., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Wendy’s/Arby’s Group
  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi D-CA $35.2 M: Investment Stocks, Real Estate
  • Rep. Rick Berg R-ND Freshman $21.6 M: Commercial and Private Real Estate
  • Sen. Bob Corker R-TN $21.2 M: Commercial Real Estate, Land Development
  • Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen R-NJ $20.4 M: Stock investments in Proctor & Gamble and others, including Johnson & Johnson, ExxonMobil and Pall Corp.
  • Sen. Jim Risch R-ID $19.8 M: Real Estate Inestments
  • Rep. Gary Miller R-CA $17.5 M: Former Land Developer, Real Estate & Investments
  • Sen. Claire McCaskille D-MO $17 M: Investment Funds, Stocks (Digital Co.)
  • Rep. Kenny Marchant R-TX $16.5 M: Investment Funds, Securities, Stocks, Cattle & Farming
  • Rep. Nita Lowey D-NY $15.5 M: Investments, Hedge Funds, Business Owner
  • Rep. Mike Kelly R-PA Freshman $11.9M: Auto Dealerships, Investments (Gas), Family Trust
  • Rep. Trent Banks R-AZ $11.6 M: Investments and Oil Stocks
  • Rep. Richard Hanna R-NY Freshman $10.9 M: Investments, Construction
  • Rep. Scott Rigell R-VA Freshman $10.7 M: Auto Dealerships, Commercial Real Estate, Wachovia Bank
  • Rep. Dianne Black R-TN Freshman $10.6 M: Real Estate, Stocks, Hedge Fund
  • Rep. Tom Petri R-WI $10.6 M: Blue chip stock investments
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander R-TN $10.4 M: Stock (Processed Food Corp.), Real Estate
  • Sen. John McCain R-AZ $10.4 M: Real Estate, Spouse Chair of Hensley & Co. (Beer Distributor)
  • Rep. Tom Harkin D-IA $10.3 M: Investments & Stock (blue chip cos.), Spouse Board member of ConnocoPhillips
  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney D-NY $10.1 M: Real Estate, Stocks
  • Rep. James Sensenbrenner R-WI $10.1 M: Stocks include ExxonMobile, AT&T, BP and Darden Restaurants
  • Sen. Olympia Snowe R-ME $9.9 M: Investment Funds
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell R-KY $9.8 M: Investment Funds, Real Estate
  • Rep. Tom Price R-GA $9.4 M: Investment Funds, Real Estate, Pension Funds
  • Rep. Nan Hayworth R-NY Freshman $9.3 M: Medical Doctor, Investment Funds
  • Sen. Herb Kohl D-WI $9.2 M: Owner NBA Milwaukee Bucks (worth $258 M)
  • Rep. Shelley Berkley D-NV $9.2 M: Spouse Retirement fund and owns RRT in Las Vegas
  • Rep. Blake Farenthold R-TX $8.8 M: Family Trusts, Real Estate
  • Rep. Lloyd Doggett D-TX $8.5 M: Real Estate & Investments
  • Rep. John Campbell R-CA $8.4 M: Businessman, Investments (Goldman Sachs)
  • Rep. Bill Flores R-TX Freshman $8.3 M: Oil & Gas, Investment Funds
  • Sen. Ron Johnson R-WI Freshman $8.2 M: Plastics Manufacturer, Investment Funds
  • Rep. Steve Pearce R-NM $8 M: Rental Equity Companies, Investment Funds
  • Sen. John Hoeven R-NV $7.9 M: Former Banker, Stocks in High-End Firms
  • Rep. Fred Upton D-MI $7.9 M: Whirlpool Heir, Family Trust Fund
  • Sen. Jeff Bingaman D-NM $7.4 M: Investment Funds including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch & Ameritrade
  • Sen. Kay Hagan D-NC $7.1 M: Commercial Real Estate & Investments
  • Sen. Ben Nelson D-NE $6.6 M: Investment, Real Estate Investments DC, IL, NE
  • Sen. Johnny Isakson R-GA $6.5 M: Significant holdings in Starbucks, IBM, Visa and others, Real Estate & Farmland
  • Rep. Randy Neugebauer R-TX $6.2 M: Real Estate, Private Equity & Hedge Funds
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