Even in a bad economy it seems the rich get richer -- at least that was the case on Capitol Hill in 2009.
newspaper, which annually reviews lawmakers' financial disclosure forms to compile its "wealthiest" list, said the top 50 richest members of Congress were worth nearly $1.4 billion last year -- $85.1 million more than the holdings of the elite group a year earlier.
The richest? That would be Sen. John Kerry, (D-Mass.), who tops the list for the second year with a minimum net worth of $186.6 million, a boost of about $20 million from 2008, with much of it credited to his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. Sen. Kerry got some unwanted publicity last month when questions were raised about him docking a $7 million family yacht
in Newport, R.I., which levies virtually no taxes on pleasure craft, instead of in Massachusetts, which imposes substantial fees. After being questioned about sloop's home berth, Kerry said he intended to pay in full whatever taxes Massachusetts authorities decided he owed the state.
In calculating the wealth of members of Congress, The Hill said its formula is not foolproof since the ethics forms required of senators and representatives only demand ranges of income and holdings, not precise figures. Left off the list, for instance, is the very wealthy Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl of retail store fame, who owns the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. Since the upper range required for financial disclosure is $50 million, the much higher full value of the NBA franchise does not show up in Kohl's filing, The Hill said.
Second on the list was Republican Rep. Darrell Issa of California, who made his fortune developing a car alarm system. Issa's minimum net worth was put at $160.1 million, although he actually saw a dip of about $4 million in his holdings in 2009.
After Kerry and Issa, the rest of the top 10 list were: Rep. Jane Harman, (D-Calif.); Sen. Jay Rockefeller, (D-W.Va.); Rep. Michael McCaul, (R-Texas); Sen. Mark Warner, (D-Va.); Rep. Jared Polis, (D-Colo.); Rep. Vern Buchanan, (R-Fla.); Sen. Frank Lautenberg, (D-N.J.), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.)