Rich folks in Congress

Although his 2010 election opponent made much of his personal wealth, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid didn’t make a Washington Post list published last week of the 25 richest members of Congress.

Reid’s 2010 financial disclosure showed him with a net worth of $3.4 million—a nearly 10 percent increase over 2009, the recession notwithstanding. That doesn’t come close to U.S. Rep. Diane Lynn Black’s $31,272,522. She’s a Tennessee Republican and number 25 on the list. Number one is GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California, whose $448,125,017 makes him the richest member of Congress.

The Post reported, “Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home–equity. Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan. The comparisons exclude home equity because it is not included in congressional reporting, and 1984 was chosen because it is the earliest year for which consistent wealth statistics are available.”

Wealth seems to be a bipartisan attribute. Of the top 25, Republicans barely eked out a majority of 13.

In 2010, Reid’s Republican opponent Sharron Angle made an issue of his wealth and asked, “On behalf of Nevada taxpayers, I’d like to know, we’d like to know—how did you become so wealthy on a government payroll?”

In fact, Reid was already wealthy when he arrived in Congress in 1983 after a career as an attorney. Recent disclosures have provided some details about his investments. He holds 18 county and state bonds, each valued in the $50,001-$100,000 range. He has a 54 percent interest in 55 acres of patent survey land in Nevada valued at $500,001-$1 million, and 160 acres in Bullhead City, Ariz.—across the Colorado River from the Nevada casino town of Laughlin—valued at from $250,001 to $500,000.