A Big Buck Club
There's been a lot of talk this campaign season about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's net worth: How he likes to fire people, whether he'll release his tax returns and how he cheered on his Olympic dressage horse.
The wealth of Congress continues to rise. Nearly half of all representatives and senators are millionaires.
Republican Michael McCaul represents the 10th District of Texas in the House of Representatives, which stretches from Austin through parts of rural counties including Bastrop, Washington and Waller and into suburban Houston, including parts of Katy, Cypress and Tomball. He's also worth more than $300 million according to his financial disclosure reports, which included mutual funds, bank accounts and other assets, as well as liabilities like mortgages on homes (though the value of the home was not required to include as an asset).
McCaul's reported wealth eclipses other members of Congress by a large margin. The only other members worth more than $100 million are Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who lists his assets at $198.65 million, followed by Rep. Darrell Issa of California, a Republican whose worth dropped by $80 million (partly due to new liability disclosure rules) to put him in the third spot at $140.55 million.
Democratic senators Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia ($85.81 million), West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller ($83.08) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut ($79.11 million) round out the top five.
They may be on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but one thing that McCaul and Kerry have in common is that the vast majority of their fortunes come from their wives. Teresa Heinz Kerry is the widow of H. John Heinz III, whose family controls the Heinz ketchup fortune. Similarly Linda McCaul, whose father Lowry May is the founder and CEO of media juggernaut Clear Channel Communications Inc., has received most of the family assets as gifts from her parents, leading to the McCauls' reported wealth rising from about $74 million in 2009 to $294 million in 2010.
Hey, work hard and marry well, right?
The average wealth of Congress continues to rise, with the median net worth of members at $913,000 in 2011. Nearly half of all representatives and senators are millionaires. How rich is this club? Sen. John McCain, who took some flack for not knowing how many houses he owned in 2008 (he has eight) no longer ranks among the top 50, according to Roll Call.
Just to compare, the average American family's net worth was $77,300 in 2010.