At a time when federal lawmakers are debating issues like unemployment benefits, food stamps and the minimum wage, as well as considering an overhaul of the tax code, there are now more millionaires in Congress than ever before. This was the finding of a new analysis of personal financial disclosure data by the Center for Responsive Politics.
According to disclosures filed last year by all members of Congress and congressional candidates, at least 268 of the 534 current members had an average net worth of $1 million or more. The $1,008,767 median net worth for the 530 current federal lawmakers was an increase $966,000 in the previous year, when about 48 percent of Congress members had a median net worth of at least $1 million.
The wealthiest member of Congress was Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. He had an average net worth of $464 million in 2012. At the other end of the spectrum was Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.), who reported an average net worth of negative $12.1 million in 2012. His debt was due to loans for his family dairy farm.
The Center for Responsive Politics also found that investing in the stock market, out of favor with members of Congress for several years, swelled again in 2012. General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) was once again the most popular stock, with 74 lawmakers invested, up from 71 in 2011. Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) was the second most popular, with 58 members invested. That was up from 40 in the previous year. Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) were also popular investments.
Real estate was the most popular investment for members of Congress, though. Investments in that category were estimated at between $442.2 million and $1.4 billion in value.
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