Ballotpedia has compiled data on the average net worth of our elected officials for the years 2004 to 2010. As the average net worth of Congress has increased since 2004, and held about even from 2007 to 2010, the average American family net worth dropped 40 percent from 2007 to 2010 to an average of $77,300.
In 2010, the average net worth for a U.S. senator was $13,224,333. The average net worth for a Democratic senator was $19,383,524, compared to $7,054,258 for a Republican senator. That’s a difference of $12.3 million.
The top ten richest senators, the highest seven of which are Democrats, from this Ballotpedia table:
Top 10 Senators in 2010
|Senator||Average Net Worth|
|John Kerry (D-Mass)||$231,722,794|
|Mark Warner (D-Va)||$192,730,605|
|Herb Kohl (D-Wis)||$173,538,010|
|Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa)||$99,057,011|
|Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ)||$85,572,116|
|Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn)||$73,151,590|
|Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif)||$69,046,622|
|Bob Corker (R-Tenn)||$59,550,022|
|James E. Risch (R-Idaho)||$54,088,026|
|Mitch McConnell (R-Ky)||$27,213,024|
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) came in as the caboose with a -$32,500 net worth.
The Republicans rule the House, however, in terms of average net worth. The 2010 average net worth was $5,992,869 for a Congressman overall, but the Republican average was $7,561,133, compared to the Democratic average of $4,465,875, which is a difference of $3.1 million.
Ballotpedia’s table of the highest net worth congressman reveals Nancy Pelosi and “Colorado Model” originator Jared Polis in the top ten, with Darrell Issa standing out as the highest net worth public servant in Congress:
|Representative||Average Net Worth|
|Darrell Issa (R-Calif)||$448,125,017|
|Michael McCaul (R-Texas)||$380,411,527|
|Jane Harman (D-Calif)||$326,844,751|
|Jared Polis (D-Colo)||$143,218,562|
|Vernon Buchanan (R-Fla)||$136,152,641|
|Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif)||$101,123,032|
|Alan Grayson (D-Fla)||$93,896,519|
|Kenny Marchant (R-Texas)||$49,340,275|
|Gary Miller (R-Calif)||$46,008,028|
|Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)||$42,900,594|
Another democrat is deepest in the red in the House; Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) has the lowest negative net worth at -$4,732,000.
We have never been a country to bemoan the success of others; the wealth of others offers hope for us and the next generation. This wealth gap does provide a backdrop for understanding our legislators and their influences, or lack thereof.
One of my first jobs, working for U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald, afforded me the opportunity to see how a Senator who could eschew kowtowing to donors and special interests could legislate from principle rather than pleasing those with money. We could use more of the Peter Fitzgerald brand of leader–and brand of Republican–in Illinois and across the country.