Nobody goes into the public sector to make a fortune, yet Capitol Hill is crowded with millionaires. About half of all U.S. senators are estimated to have a net worth of at least a million dollars. Meanwhile, the typical American household is worth about $109,000.
A well-heeled legislative branch is not a new phenomenon. In the first few years of American independence, government officials, who were generally well-off to begin with, were not paid for their public service.
Today, U.S. senators are paid a salary of $174,000 per year — more than triple the average wage across all American workers of $51,960 — and higher than the median earnings of even the highest paying jobs in America. Senate majority and minority leaders make even more — $193,400 annually. Lawmakers’ salaries do not include benefits like staff and travel allowances, which average more than $3 million per senator.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed the estimated net worth of U.S. senators from Roll Call, a Capitol Hill news outlet, to identify how much each state’s senators are worth. Net worth figures are rounded estimates derived from financial disclosure forms filed in 2018 and are not necessarily comprehensive or exact.
While being wealthy is not a precondition to running for national office, it certainly does not hurt. Campaigning comes with a number of practical burdens related to time and money that working-class Americans have more trouble shouldering than wealthier ones. Wealthy Americans are also more likely to be well connected, acquainted with powerful business leaders and other affluent individuals — and those connections can prove critical for campaign fundraising.
Exactly how the wealthiest senators amassed their fortune varies. Many launched their political careers after a lucrative stint in the private sector. Others married into wealthy families. And some senators are not wealthy at all, and Roll Call estimates that their liabilities outweigh their assets.
Small personal fortunes are not limited to the legislative branch of the U.S. Government. Many U.S. presidents have also had net worths in the million and even billion dollar range. This is the net worth of every U.S. President, from Washington to Trump.