Mon January 13, 2014
Report: Mitch McConnell, John Yarmuth Among Wealthiest Members of Congress
A new report shows that for the first time in U.S. history, a majority of lawmakers in Washington are millionaires. And two members of Kentucky’s federal delegation are among the wealthiest.
The analysis of personal financial disclosure records released by the Center for Responsive Politics shows most members of Congress have an average net worth of $1 million.
This report comes at a time when 1 out of 2 Americans are either poor or low-income earners.
Among Kentucky's federal delegates, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth, both of Louisville, are the wealthiest.
The center estimates McConnell is the 37th richest member of Congress, with an average net worth of nearly $23 million. That puts the GOP leader well ahead of an average senator who has a $2.7 million net worth.
Yarmuth's net worth is estimated to be around $21 million, which makes him the 41st wealthiest member overall and well above the average House member at $896,000.
In order to calculate a lawmaker's net worth the center added assets reported and deducted costs such as loans, mortgages and credit card debt.
A Yarmuth spokesman called the report "inaccurate" and says the congressman's reported median wealth is closer to $10 million.
But the report does provide a stark contrast when considering recent decisions by Congress to cut food stamps are having a disproportionate effect in places like Kentucky. Given the widening gap between lawmakers and their constituents, some have asked if Congress can understand the economic struggles of ordinary citizens.
During the recession, one-third of citizens lived in poverty at some point according to U.S. Census data, but Congress has seen its wealth increase in recent years. The center finds that from 2011-2012 the median wealth of lawmakers increased 4.4 percent.
Other lawmakers in the state fall far behind McConnell and Yarmuth's estimated wealth, but are still wealthy by most standards. Congressman Hal Rogers has a $3.7 million net worth while Thomas Massie is listed at $2.8 million. On the poorer end of the scale, however, Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Congressman Andy Barr have an estimated net worth below $400,000. Republican Congressman Todd Young of Indiana's average net worth is ranked at approximately $66,000.
The wealthiest member of Congress remains Darrell Issa of California, who is listed with an average net worth of $464 million.