For the second year in a row, Republican Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas is the richest member of Congress, with a reported net worth of $305 million — the first time a Washington lawmaker has surpassed the $300 million mark.
Roll Call’s annual list of the 50 richest members of Congress reveals that seven of the top 10 are Democrats — and four of the 10 owe their fortunes to wealthy spouses.
McCaul, a former federal prosecutor, reported in 2010 that his wife had received assets as gifts from her parents, boosting his net worth from some $73 million to at least $294 million that year. His wife Linda is the daughter of Clear Channel Communications Inc. CEO and founder Lowry Mays.
Roll Call determines the minimum net worth of members by subtracting the total minimum value of all liabilities from the total minimum value of all assets. Lawmakers do not have to report the value of personal residences as an asset. The assets and liabilities are listed in broad ranges, making it difficult to calculate a lawmaker’s exact minimum net worth, Roll Call pointed out.
Second on the 2012 list of richest members of Congress is Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., up from No. 3 last year with a net worth of $199 million. His wife Teresa Heinz Kerry is the widow of the late Sen. H. John Heinz III of the Heinz ketchup fortune.
At No. 3, down one place this year, is Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., at $141 million. Issa is the founder of Directed Electronics Inc., which makes car alarms.
Next on the list is Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., at $86 million. He made his fortune as co-founder of Nextel Communications Inc.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., is No. 5, with $83 million. He is the great-grandson of Standard Oil Co. founder John D. Rockefeller.
He is followed by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., at $79 million. His wife Cynthia Blumenthal is the daughter of New York real estate mogul Peter Malkin.
Another Democrat, Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, is No. 7 with a net worth of $72 million. Much of his wealth comes from Blue Mountain Arts, his family’s greeting card and publishing business.
Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, yet another Democrat, is No. 8 at $57 million. He is co-founder of Automatic Data Processing, a payroll processing company.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., No. 9 on the list, owes her fortune to her husband Richard Blum, president, and CEO of the private equity firm Blum Capital Partners LP. Her net worth is estimated at $42 million.
Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, is No. 10 with a net worth of $37 million. He has significant investments in fast-food chains, electronics companies, pharmaceutical companies, and oil giants, according to Roll Call.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California is at No. 13, with a net worth of $26 million, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is at No. 37 with $9 million.
The “poorest” member on the list is Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., with a net worth of $6.28 million.