New LegBranch.com Resource: How Wealthy Are Our Representatives?

Graphic created by Trey Billing, @TreyBilling

By Casey Burgat and Charles Hunt

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.

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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

Casey Burgat is a governance fellow at the R Street Institute. Charles Hunt is a doctoral student at the University of Maryland, College Park.