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.