At a time when Americans are experiencing a widening income gap, a new report shows that for the first time in its history, a majority of members of Congress had a net worth of at least $1 million in 2012.
Just over half, or 268, of 534 members of Congress (one seat was vacant) were millionaires, according to a report from the Center for Responsive Politics that examined disclosures filed last year. In 2013, 257 members were millionaires. The median net worth of the 530 members who were in Congress for the May 2013 filing deadline was $1,008,767, up from $966,000 the previous year.
"Despite the fact that polls show how dissatisfied Americans are with Congress overall, there's been no change in our appetite to elect affluent politicians to represent our concerns in Washington," the center's Executive Director, Sheila Krumholz, says in a statement.
But it takes money to get elected, she adds, noting that "it's undeniable that in our electoral system, candidates need access to wealth to run financially viable campaigns, and the most successful fundraisers are politicians who swim in those circles to begin with."
It might seem surprising to Democrats that overall, members of Congress from that party are wealthier. Median net worth of Democrats was $1.04 million, while Republicans had a net worth of $1 million. In both parties, the overall median wealth increased from a year earlier.
In the Senate, however, Republicans were not only far wealthier than Democrats, but getting richer. Republican senators increased median wealth from $2.5 million in 2011 to $2.9 million in 2012, while Democrats reported a decrease in median net worth, from $2.4 million to $1.7 million. In the House, Democrats disclosed median net worth of $929,000, while Republicans came in at $884,000.
The richest member of Congress in 2012 was Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who made his estimated $464 million fortune in the car alarm business.
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