New LegBranch.com Resource: How Wealthy Are Our Representatives?
Graphic created by Trey Billing, @TreyBilling
It likely wouldn’t surprise anyone, much less a congressional scholar, to learn that most members of Congress are wealthier than the average American. What might be more surprising is just how much wealthier they are. According to estimates calculated by the Center for Responsive Politics, the average net worth of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives is around $8 million. That’s about 116 times as much as the net worth of the average American, which according to the Census Bureau’s most recent estimates is $69,000. Even the median net worth of the top 20% of Americans – about $630,000 – doesn’t even come close to that of the median net worth of members of Congress (about $880,000).
To help visualize this for individual members of Congress, we’ve put together an interactive graphic that displays data for all members of the 114th House of Representatives for whom data is available, including their state, district, party, and estimated net worth. Each circle denotes a representative, the bigger the circle, the more the he or she is worth. Hover over each circle to see the name of the representative and their net worth and zoom in and out to get a better view of a region. Use the wealth slider to limit the representative visible on the map.
Below is a summary graphic showing wealth ranges and the number of members that fall into each range. Nearly half of the members of the House are millionaires, and nearly two-thirds are worth more than a half a million dollars.
These net worth figures for members of Congress, given how out-of-sync they are with the wealth of their constituents, should give us pause and lead us to ask some important questions.
- Why are members of Congress so much wealthier than average Americans?
- Do voters care about this disparity, and should they?
- What work experience created this kind of wealth for them, and what kinds of policy implications could this have?
Further analysis of our interactive graphic is likely to spur even more questions.
Poorest Ten Members Net Worth Richest Ten Members Net Worth
David Valadao (R-CA) -$25,167,003 Darrell Issa (R-CA) $436,500,015
Alcee L Hastings (D-FL) -$4,732,002 Jared Polis (D-CO) $387,864,231
Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) -$2,248,995 John K Delaney (D-MD) $214,902,588
Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX) -$2,110,437 Michael McCaul (R-TX) $160,340,931
Renee Ellmers (R-NC) -$246,498 Dave Trott (R-MI) $113,844,576
Raul Labrador (R-ID) -$216,498 Vernon Buchanan (R-FL) $106,912,071
Louis B Gohmert Jr (R-TX) -$107,501 Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) $101,273,023
Joaquin Castro (D-TX) -$61,500 Diane Black (R-TN) $77,755,592
Eric Swalwell (D-CA) -$58,999 Suzan DelBene (D-WA) $74,302,052
Mark Walker (R-NC) -$58,999 Scott Peters (D-CA) $72,913,546