Wealth of Congressional Democrats Spikes Despite Income Inequality Agenda

Median net worth increased $153,489 on average per member between 2013 and 2014

November 19, 2015

Democrats in Congress have seen a spike in their net worth despite making income inequality a central political issue for the party, according to statistics included in an annual report from the Center for Responsive Politics.

The report released on Tuesday, which looked at the financial statements of every person who serves in Congress, discovered that the median net worth of Democrats has jumped from $946,511 in 2013 to $1.1 million in 2014—an increase of $153,489 on average per member. Republicans, on the other hand, saw a decrease during the same time period, going from an average net worth of $1,107,017 in 2013 to $1,093,279 in 2014.

The most recent Personal Gain Index from Ballotpedia—which tracks changes in net worth of U.S. senators and representatives during their time in office using data from 2004 through 2012—shows that Democrats make up seven of the top ten greatest gains in personal wealth.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D., Maine), who entered office in 2008, had a net worth increase of more than $40 million due to her four-year marriage to billionaire financier Donald Sussman. The pair announced in September that they are divorcing. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D., Fla.) joined Congress in 2012 and saw his net worth increase by $2,979,329. Additionally, Rep. Mark Veasey’s (D., Texas) net worth has gone up by $208,078, or 994 percent, since being elected in 2012.

Congress as a whole saw their total wealth climb last year as the median net worth of all members combined increased from $4.3 billion in 2013 to $4.4 billion in 2014, the Center for Responsive Politics found.

The individual median wealth for congressional members in 2014 hovered around the $1.1 million mark—a jump of 6.7 percent from 2013. According to the most recently available numbers, the wealth of American households, by comparison, sat at $56,335 in 2013, meaning that one member’s net worth is equal to that of 19.5 households.

This figure is up from 2013 when the average wealth of one Congressional member equaled that of 18 American households.

Of the 534 current members, 268 pass the seven-figure mark in personal wealth. In 2012, for the first time in history, a majority of those in Congress were worth at least $1 million. In 2011, the average member was worth $966,000—$134,000 less than the average in 2014.

Despite the growing gap between Democratic politicians and average workers, the party has attempted to turn income inequality into one of the party’s signature issues in recent years. Hillary Clinton, the current favorite for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016, has, along with her husband, earned more than $30 million since January 2014.

Viveca Novak, the communications director for the Center for Responsive Politics, said these figures bring into question whether congressional members understand the problems the average family faces.

"With the median net worth of Congress increasing more than six percent in 2014, lawmakers are more unlike the people they serve than ever before," Novak told the Washington Free Beacon. "More than half of them are millionaires. The question is whether they can understand the problems of the average American family."

Published under: Congress