What do the wealthiest Members of Congress have in common with cast members of the Real Housewives franchise?
Lawmakers might not share the Housewives’ propensity for chardonnay-fueled catfights, but just like those Botoxed women of Bravo, they married well.
Specifically, into gobs of money.
Roll Call on Thursday published its annual list of the 50 richest members of Congress, and among those with the fattest back accounts are plenty who got their money the old-fashioned way — by marrying into it. (And in case the sight of all those zeros was already making you cross-eyed, keep in mind that most of the lawmakers are far wealthier even than listed, since disclosure forms may not reveal the extent of their holdings and since Roll Call uses the minimums of the ranges they report.)
Take the very flushest, Rep. Mike McCaul. Most of the Texas Republican’s vast fortune — a minimum of $305.96 million — comes from his wife, Linda McCaul, whose family’s business is a little establishment called Clear Channel Communications Inc. In fact, according to number-crunching Roll Call reporter Amanda Becker, the congressman's net worth “jumped from at least $73.75 million in 2009 to at least $294 million in 2010” thanks to a generous “gift” from his parents-in-law.
Or Sen. John Kerry, the second most affluent, who has ketchup and a spouse to thank for his wealth, estimated to be at least $231.23 million. His wife, Theresa Heinz Kerry, is the “widow of the late Sen. H. John Heinz III of the Heinz ketchup fortune,” Roll Call notes. Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s wife is the source of most of his $79.61 million, which puts him at #6 on the list. Cynthia Blumenthal is the daughter of a New York real estate mogul.
Some women on the list, too, enjoy the financial perks of marriage. California Democrats Sen. Dianne Feinstein (#9) and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (#13), have wealthy husbands. And a newcomer to the “50 Richest” list, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) gained admittance into the elite club (she’s #12) after her marriage to financier Donald Sussman.
Seems there might be something to that retro-sounding advice about it being just as easy to marry rich as it is to marry poor. Pass the chardonnay.