The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

October 8, 2012

Members of Congress Avoided Recession's Worst

(Continued)

For its analysis, The Post used the midpoint of the range of each reported holding and tracked the figures over time to determine whether the relative wealth of lawmakers had increased or declined between 2004 and 2010. Previous studies of congressional wealth have looked at Congress as a whole, rather than tracking the financial trend for each individual lawmaker. The Post created an in-depth financial portrait of each member of Congress.

Among the findings:

The estimated wealth of Republicans was 44 percent higher than Democrats in 2004, but that disparity has virtually disappeared.

The number of millionaires in Congress dropped after the Great Recession; the 253 who have served during the current session are the smallest group since 2004. The numbers are likely to be underestimated because lawmakers are not required to list their homes among their assets.

Between 2004 and 2010, 72 lawmakers appeared to have doubled their estimated wealth.

At least 150 lawmakers reported receiving more income from outside jobs and investments than from their congressional salaries of $174,000 for rank-and-file members.

Representatives in 2010 had a median estimated wealth of $750,000; senators had $2.6 million.

Since 2004, lawmakers reported more than 3,500 outside jobs paying their spouses more than $1,000 a year. The lawmakers are not required to report how much they are paid or what the spouses did for the money.

Lawmakers' wealth is held in a variety of ways: 127 primarily in real estate, 117 in institutional funds, 75 in their spouses' names, 51 in essentially cash, 36 in specific stocks and bonds, 32 in high-turnover trading, 30 in business ownership and 20 in agriculture. Forty-six had reported assets of $25,000 or less.

The Post also found that some congressional financial interests intersected with public actions taken by legislators: 73 lawmakers sponsored or co-sponsored legislation that could have benefitted businesses or industries in which either they or their families were involved or invested. The Post will report on several of those cases Monday.

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