More millionaires in Congress than ever before - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

More millionaires in Congress than ever before


More than half of the current members of Congress have a net worth of $1 million or more.

In fact, having a job on Capitol Hill is its own millionaire's club, with 268 of 534 current members having a net worth of $1 million or more in 2012 and the average net worth at $1,008,767.

Members of Congress have to report their earnings, stock options, businesses, homes and land. According to a new analysis of those disclosures by the folks at the non-profit Center for Responsive Politics, millionaires rule the roost.

"Running for congress, whether it's a House seat or a Senate seat, is a very expensive proposition," said Jen Thompson, a professor in the VCU Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs who ran a senate campaign in Missouri in 2002. "Unfortunately you can't win a race without millions of dollars, either your own or knowing people who have it. It's not possible. It doesn't happen."

Thompson says in this day and age it takes tens of millions of dollars to run a campaign.
Not only that, but for statewide office, you need the ability to travel -- fast and often.

"Someone who's working 80 hours a week as an attorney or as a news journalist, simply doesn't have the time to do it. They can't knock on all the doors, attend the events and travel around the district. It's just not possible," said Thompson.

Of the Virginia delegation, Congressman Randy Forbes comes in at number four. The Republican has a maximum net worth of $5.7 million. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is third with a maximum of $9.3 million. He's topped by Republican Rep. Scott Rigell. His max net worth is more than $62 million. The richest member in the entire senate is Democrat Sen. Mark Warner. His maximum net worth is estimated at nearly $419 million.

"I have been blessed living the American dream, but I also think I still understand. I can remember those days when I wasn't sure I could pay my student loans," said Warner.

Even a multi-millionaire says he believes the amount of money it takes run a senate campaign is outrageous. He says it's his job to know what the average American is going through.

"I never forget where I came from. I went to public schools all my life. I failed at my first couple of businesses. I lived out of my car for a while," said Warner. "I was broke. I feel very lucky that I was able to build a business in the telecommunications area, but I don't forget my roots."

Members of this millionaires club don't always fund their own campaigns either. Many still go out and raise the money.

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved

Powered by Frankly