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Congressional membership has its privileges

While the economy remains unstable, foreclosures skyrocket upwards, unemployment hovers near double-digits and economic indicators yield little inspiration, members of Congress enjoy growing personal bank accounts.

In its annual report on the wealthiest members of Congress, The Hill found lawmakers haven’t struggled with a lagging economy at all in fact they got even richer.

According to the report, the 50 richest members of Congresses’ portfolio were worth about $1.4 billion in 2009, this figure is up about $85.1 million the year before. The Hill’s annual review of lawmakers used financial disclosure forms as their marker to measure Congressional personal wealth.

It was Democrat Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts who topped the list for a second year in a row. His net worth increased more than $20 million the past year and now stands somewhere in the $188 million range.

A new face in the top 50 list has a familiar last name. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), received his inheritance from his late father, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), which catapulted him to the number 47th richest spot.

The top ten richest lawmakers skewed towards the Democrats as they claimed seven of the first ten slots. (#1 John Kerry (MA), #3 Jane Harman (CA), #4 Jay Rockefeller (W. VA), #6 Mark Warner (VA), #7 Jared Polis (CO), #9 Frank Lautenberg (N.J.) and #10 Diane Feinstein (CA).

While only three Republicans made the top ten list, it was Rep. Darrell Issa of California who claimed the second wealthiest member for the second year in a row. His was followed by Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas in fifth and Rep. Vern Buchanan of Florida in eighth.

In total there were 27 Democrats along with 23 Republicans who made up the 50 richest in Congress.

According to The Hill, Lawmakers are only required to report their earnings in broad ranges. “For example, a $2.5 million vacation home in Aspen, Colo., would be reported as being valued at between $1 and $5 million on a congressional financial disclosure form,” the article read.

By using the most conservative estimate for each lawmaker’s wealth, researchers used the lowest number of valued assets in each range reported. This calculation method showed only the minimum net worth for each Congressional member and the total of their liabilities were subtracted from their assets to get an average net worth.

By using this methodology, The Hill says it may miss some of the richest lawmakers inside the beltway.
All said and done annual top 50 wealthiest list proves that membership does indeed have its privileges.

To read the entire top 50 list; http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/116491-the-hills-50-wealthiest-list-slideshow

For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/county-political-buzz-in-san-diego/kimberly-dvorak

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