Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who for the last few months has dedicated himself to finding a link between the Obama White House and the Internal Revenue Service's scrutiny of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status, is back in the news.
This time, though, it's not his tax-related tenacity that's getting attention. It's his personal wealth.
Issa is the richest member of Congress, according to The Hill's latest analysis of lawmakers' wealth. Each year, the Capitol Hill newspaper compiles a list of the 50 richest representatives and senators. The lawmakers' minimum net worth is based on financial disclosure forms that members of Congress must file each year. Those reports, however, provide only value ranges instead of exact figures. Still, the documents give us a rough idea of how much each public servant pockets.
In the latest accounting, 37 representatives made the list, with the remaining 13 coming from the Senate. Overall, and for the third consecutive year, more Republicans than Democrats made the wealth cut.
Issa is No. 1
Issa, who serves as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, saw his fortune increase to $355.4 million in 2012, enough to take the crown. Before coming to Washington, D.C., Issa was a co-founder of Directed Electronics, the maker of the Viper anti-auto-theft system. Now, says The Hill, most of Issa's wealth is kept in large investment funds. And his current bottom line was helped by eliminating some debt. According to the newspaper, Issa no longer shows around $100 million in personal notes and loans as liabilities on his financial disclosure forms.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, was bumped from the top of the Capitol Hill richest list. McCaul is now second, with a net worth of "only" $101.9 million. While most of us would take that relatively paltry amount in a New York minute, it's a $200 million drop from McCaul's value last year. The reason for the reduction, says The Hill, is that McCaul opted to report his wife and family's holdings differently in 2012.
Coming in third this year is Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. He's worth $88.5 million. The former Virginia governor co-founded the company that later became Nextel and has continued to invest in tech start-ups. He also had no debts to report.
A familiar name when discussing wealth came in fourth, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. The great-grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller is worth $83.8 million. Did refinancing help Rockefeller's bottom line last year? Maybe. The Hill reports that Rockefeller's wealth increased slightly from 2011 after a mortgage held by his wife on their New York condo fell by a half-million dollars.
Taking the fifth spot is newcomer Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. The first-term Democrat from the Constitution State counts trusts and real estate investments, including office buildings, apartments, warehouses and shopping centers, as part of his $76.6 million net worth.
The rest of the rich
Rounding out the top 10 are Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., worth $68.4 million; Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., worth $60.2 million; Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., worth $44.7 million; Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., worth $41.6 million; and Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Ohio, worth $35.9 million.
And who is the poorest, relatively speaking, member of Congress?
Eking onto the list in the 50th spot is Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., with his net worth of $6.5 million.
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Veteran contributing editor Kay Bell is the author of the book "The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes" and a co-author of the e-book "Future Millionaires' Guidebook."