Washington’s wealthy include local congressional delegation

June 17, 2011

The Washington region is the wealthiest in the country, and it also boasts some rich members of Congress.

But not everyone who represents the D.C. area is flush: New financial disclosure forms released in the past week show that the local delegation includes lawmakers who span the financial spectrum.

No one who serves in Congress can be considered poor: Rank-and-file members of the House and Senate make $174,000 a year, and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) got $193,400 last year because he served as House majority leader (he is now minority whip and has been bumped back to the regular salary).

But not all of them are multi-millionaires like Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), either. Warner, who asked for an extension to file his latest disclosure form, is regularly ranked among the wealthiest members of Congress. Warner, who made his fortune investing in technology and telecommunications companies, was worth at least $70 million as of the end of 2009.

Fellow Virginia Sen. James Webb (D), a successful author, also asked for an extension this year. On last year’s form, Webb reported a net worth between $1 million and $10 million (lawmakers are only required to report in broad ranges, not specific amounts).

In a study released in November, the Center for Responsive Politics found that through 2009, nearly half of all members of Congress — 261 total — were millionaires. The average House member’s wealth was $765,000, the group calculated, while the average senator’s wealth was $2.4 million.

The local delegation has its share of millionaires. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) is worth at least $1 million, according to his latest disclosure. His largest single holding appears to be stock in his former employer, SAIC.

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) also lives comfortably. He is worth at least $1.4 million, with much of his money in retirement accounts and a trust set up by his late father.

And Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) could be a millionaire as well. She reported assets between $879,000 and $2.5 million, mostly in IRAs. She also earned a side salary of $10,200 for teaching at Georgetown University’s law school. Before she was elected to Congress in 1990, Norton worked as a lawyer, gave paid speeches and served on corporate boards.

At the other end of the financial spectrum, Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) reports having no assets. Moran is in the midst of a divorce from his third wife, real estate company owner LuAnn Bennett, and so he is no longer including her assets on his disclosure form. A year ago, Moran reported assets of at least $1.9 million, but all of it belonged to Bennett.

Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) is doing slightly better — she reported assets between $16,000 and $45,000. Hoyer came in with assets between $18,000 and $96,000. (Hoyer cashed in at least $166,000 in assets last year and put the money in his federal thrift savings plan, which is not included on his disclosure form.)

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is worth between $148,000 and $445,000. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) reported assets between $156,000 and $515,000, mostly in retirement accounts; while Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) has between $358,000 and $515,000, much of it in mutual funds.

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