U.S. representatives and senators are elected to Capitol Hill to represent the interests of all Americans. However, based on the reported net worth of sitting U.S. senators, it appears that many legislators may not be able to relate to the day-to-day lives of ordinary people.
Senators are paid a salary of $174,000 per year, which is more than triple the average wage across all American workers of about $50,000 and higher than the median earnings of even the best-paying jobs in America. Senate majority and minority leaders make even more: $193,400 annually. Further, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve, the typical American family has a net worth of about $97,300. Meanwhile, the estimated median net worth among sitting U.S. senators is around $2.4 million.
Using data compiled by OpenSecrets.org, a nonprofit research organization, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the estimated net worth of sitting U.S. senators. Net worth figures are rounded estimates derived from financial disclosure forms filed in 2019 and are not necessarily comprehensive or exact. America’s richest Senator took office via appointment after most of these figures were filed. However, OpenSecrets has put her net worth at about $500 million.
Wealth is not necessary to run for national office. In fact, a handful of lawmakers have financial liabilities that outweigh their assets. Still, these senators are the exceptions to the rule.
Campaigning requires significant investments of time and money that working-class Americans may have more trouble shouldering than wealthier ones. High-net-worth Americans also are more likely to be well connected, acquainted with powerful business leaders and other affluent individuals, and those connections can prove critical for campaign fundraising.
Of course, a politician’s popularity is subject to a wide range of factors. While being worth millions of dollars may make it more difficult for senators to relate to the hardships faced by many of their constituents, net worth does not appear to have a meaningful effect on approval ratings. Senators with high approval ratings fall on either end of the wealth spectrum, as do their less popular counterparts.
Based on our research U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia is the wealthiest member of the Senate by far, with that net worth of $500 million. Forbes puts the combined net worth of Loeffler and husband Jeff Sprecher at $800 million.
A Republican, Loeffler was appointed to succeed Johnny Isakson, who retired. She was sworn in on January 6, 2020. She is currently running to keep the seat, with voting on November 3, the same day as the general election.
In terms of her popularity, Loeffler’s time in the Senate may be short-lived. According to a Real Clear Politics average of polls, she is behind Democrat Raphael Warnock by about 6.2 percentage points. His lead has widened recently.