The Washington Post

Methodology: How The Post calculated congressional wealth

To calculate the estimated wealth of every member of Congress, The Post used personal financial disclosures filed annually by each member and computerized by the Center for Responsive Politics ( to estimate the wealth of lawmakers for 2004 through 2010.

Most members report values of assets, debts and income in ranges, so The Post used the midpoint of each range to summarize the amounts. The Post plotted each lawmaker on a scale of relative wealth and an index of relative financial aggressiveness based on high-transaction volume, debts and volatility.

Because some lawmakers have such vast wealth, charting those values on a proportional scale would not be possible within the confines of a newspaper page.

Instead, plotting was based on percentile ranks of the relative wealth and the index of aggressiveness. Each lawmaker was also assigned a financial category, such as “spousal assets” or “business owner” based on the predominant holdings or financial position.

The charts portray 534 lawmakers, as one position was vacant when the analysis was done. Some new members filling vacancies had not yet filed financial disclosures.


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