Because of the imprecise financial disclosure system, estimations of wealth can be off by millions. For example, reports for Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-N.Y., between 2004 and 2010 show that her wealth most likely increased by as little as $1 million or as much as $20 million, as framed by the changes to the lowest and highest possible totals of her reported assets. The Post analysis, which takes the midpoint of the ranges, estimated the increase at $11 million.
That figure is inaccurate, said her spokesman, Matt Dennis.
"The Loweys' net worth did not increase by anywhere near $11m from 2004-2010 — the metric you're using presents a hugely distorted picture," Dennis said in an e-mail.
He declined to provide more accurate values for the assets of Lowey, a 12-term congresswoman, who is married to a partner in a White Plains, N.Y., law firm.
"They're entitled to a certain level of privacy with their finances," Dennis said in an interview. "That's why the system is the way it is. They want a certain standard of disclosure without sacrificing their personal privacy."
The analysis shows that lawmakers who were well-off before the financial crisis of 2008 saw portions of their portfolios level off during the darkest days. But most of these lawmakers managed to maintain their financial footing and emerge far wealthier than they had been earlier in the decade.
Some of the richest members of Congress watched their portfolios soar between 2004 and 2010. Of the 72 lawmakers whose estimated wealth doubled during that time, it appears that 11 increased their portfolios by at least $10 million, based on the midpoint of their reported ranges.
Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Tex., posted an estimated $22 million gain. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., saw an estimated $60 million increase in her reported wealth as the value of her husband's commercial real estate holdings in San Francisco climbed dramatically during the first decade of the century.