All members of Congress in both the House and Senate earn the same annual salary of $174,000, which is not all that exceptional considering that to live comfortably in Washington D.C. you need to earn a baseline salary of around $144,000. And that number is increasing every year.
Some framers of the Constitution assumed most senators would likely come from wealthy families, and as a result, didn’t require a salary at all. For a brief period of time under the Articles of Confederation, states could actually suspend their congressional representative’s pay if they were dissatisfied with their work.
Despite officially earning what some might consider a relatively modest wage (compared to, for example, executives at S&P 500 companies), some members of Congress are estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars, with several inching closer to nine-figure net worths every year. Some came from wealthy families, while others married into them. Some made their fortunes in private sector careers before entering politics. But what the richest all have in common is vastly diversified portfolios of stock options, government securities, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, and real property—which is more extensive than just real estate—among other assets.
Suspicions of insider trading, in which a lawmaker’s job makes them privy to information withheld from the general public and therefore able to act in their own best financial interest, led to the 2012 Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act. The STOCK Act requires that all stock and securities transactions be disclosed in full within 45 days of the transaction, as well as the disclosure of any asset either worth more than $1,000 at the close of the calendar year or that generated an income of more than $200 during the course of the year.
Still, ethical dilemmas abound. Information that doesn’t technically qualify as inside information and the laws associated with insider trading can still give lawmakers an unfair advantage in the market. A 2022 New York Times analysis of the Capitol Trades database created by 2iQ Research found that 3,700 trades disclosed by lawmakers of both parties between 2019 and 2021 posed potential conflicts of interest between their professional responsibilities, such as the committees they reside on, and their personal finances. Moreover, several members of Congress, many of whom are on the following list, were recently found to have violated the STOCK Act, according to a November 2022 Insider report.
Using a database compiled by Insider from congressional disclosure reports, Stacker ranked current Democratic politicians in Congress by their total estimated net worth. Estimated values were pulled from documents uploaded by each congressional member’s office for 2020, sometimes handwritten, and reference the low end of the estimated range of value for each asset. For some elected officials on this list, the assets of their spouses and dependents are included in their financial estimates, as such holdings bear relevance to that official’s accumulated wealth relative to their position within the federal government.
You may also like: States with the most liberals