More than half of the members of US Congress are now millionaires. According to personal financial disclosure data filed last year and analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics, at least 268 members of the House of Representatives and the Senate had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012. This marks the first time in history that the majority of the United States' lawmakers have fortunes totaling more than $1 million.
The data, filed in May last year for the 530 members of Congress at the time, put their median net worth at $1,008,767, an increase on the previous year's figure of $966,000. According to OpenSecrets, at least one of the Congressional members elected since the disclosure data was filed is also a millionaire.
Wealthiest Republican Darrell Issa had a net value of $464 million in 2012
Republican Darrell Issa is the wealthiest member of Congress, with a recorded net value of $464 million in 2012, much of it reportedly earned as CEO of car security firm Directed Electronics. Last year's wealthiest member, Texas Republican Michael McCaul, had his own personal fortune fall from just over $500 million to $143.1 million - but as OpenSecrets points out, the shift isn't the result of a financial catastrophe, but instead indicative of new reporting rules that mean members of Congress can call assets and incomes belonging to their spouses as an "asset over $1 million."
Only 8% of Americans think Congress is doing a good job
McCaul's slide in reported fortune means of the five wealthiest members of Congress, four are Democrats. The party also comes out slightly ahead of their Republican counterparts when comparing Congressional members' net median income: the former are valued at a median of $1.04 million, while the latter reported median personal wealth of almost exactly $1 million. But the Democratic party also contained the only group to note a drop in wealth: the median net worth of party members in the Senate dipped, likely due to John Kerry's new position as Secretary of State, and the death of Senator Frank Lautenberg - worth a reported $87.5 million.
As their personal fortunes rise, Congressional members are beginning to invest again. Real estate remains the most popular market, with the combined investment between $442.2 million and $1.4 billion. General Electric is the most popular company for Congressional investment, with 74 members pumping cash into the massive corporation.
The rise in median Congressional fortune comes as American public opinion of their elected officials is at a staggering low, with only 8% of likely US voters canvassed by Rasmussen Reports reporting they think Congress is doing a good or excellent job. But it appears the US public can't stop electing millionaires. "Despite the fact that polls show how dissatisfied Americans are with Congress overall," the Center for Responsive Politics' executive director Sheila Krumholz said, "there's been no change in our appetite to elect affluent politicians."