2014 is an election year with many major seats in Congress up for grabs. Election years bring out the worst in our politicians as attack ads dig up the best dirt around. It more or less doesn’t amount to much as very little will be accomplished in the next two years. However transparency into the election process is very important and we can thank websites like OpenSecrets.org which is run by the Center for Responsive Politics for help in that area. Today I want to show you how loaded our Senators are.
Before we dive into the data, a note on the calculation of wealth Open Secrets. Our elected officials must disclose holdings and properties but only in ranges. So you might say you own between $1 million and $5 million worth of stocks. To calculate the net worth, they folks at Open Secrets looked at the middle of these ranges. So don’t take these numbers as hard and fast. Just take note of the scale. Also, this data is from 2012 so there’s been a little turnover since. Let’s start with the average wealth by party.
The average Democrat is loaded, however averages can be skewed. And in this case they are by 10 senators with wealth above $10 million. The other 50 are below that mark. This is why median is a healthy metric. Between the GOP and Democrats, there isn’t much difference there. The median senator is worth between $2 million and $3 million.
You can see how wealthy everyone is in this scatter plot. Note the left access is a log scale, so even a small movement north is a significant change in wealth. The five richest senators are all Democrats, believe it or not. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin (retired in 2013), Mark Warner of Virginia, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia all have calculated net worth of more than $100 million. Warner was an early investor in Nextel, Blumenthal married into wealth, and Rockefeller is the great-grandson of John D Rockefeller. The source of wealth is as diverse as these guys for every senator. Some are self-made. Others have inherited or married into it.
As previously stated, no matter how you count it, just about every senator is rich. There are exceptions though. The combined net worth of the NY senators is less than $1 million. Same for NJ and VT.
Don’t assume that having wealthy senators is a bad thing. The importance here is around the transparency. It’s good to understand where people come from and where they are today.
Read more: Open Secrets Personal Finances