There are two things that are unique about the 113th Congress. First, there’s a record number of women in the Senate and House of Representatives (20 in the Senate, and 78 in the House). Second, out of the 534 members, 268 had an average net worth of a million dollars or more, making this possibly the richest Congress in history.
While it’s unarguably good news that more women are represented in positions of power in the U.S., it’s still worth noting that they remain a small percentage of the total number of Congress. In fact, they only represent about 18% of the total positions. But there’s still room for optimism. Of the Congresswomen, over a quarter of those are newcomers, meaning they were newly elected, giving hope that perhaps we will eventually see more and more women joining their ranks in the long term. It’s slow, but at least it’s progress.
And since we’re talking about one of the richest Congresses in history, it’s also worth looking at how many of the richest members of Congress are women. Sadly, not many. According to Roll Call’s annual list of the top 50 wealthiest members of Congress, which considers both assets and liabilities, only nine on the list are female. So who are these nine women who stand out in a group composed primarily of wealthy men? Well, they come from both sides of the political spectrum, Republican and Democrat alike. And they come from all over this great country, too.
It’s worth noting that spouses’ independently-owned assets aren’t necessarily expressed on Senate disclosure forms after the $1 million mark, so depending on how the wealth of these women is shared and divided with their husbands, some of them might actually be even wealthier than they appear to be on paper.
9. Sen. Kay Hagan (D- North Carolina) – Net Worth: $8.06 million
Senator Kay Hagan is a newcomer to the Top 50 Richest Congressperson’s list, and she premiers at number 45 in the overall rankings. Her wealth, though considerable, is tiny compared to some others on the list – she made a large proportion of her money thanks to her stake in Anchuca Holdings LLC, which she reportedly received as a gift. Her other assets include a stake in BNC Bancorp, and a stake in a Davis, North Carolina fishing club.
8. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D- New York) – Net Worth – $9.86 million
Coming in at 37th in the overall rankings, Representative Maloney’s wealth comes almost entirely from real estate. She owns properties in Jamaica, Virginia Beach, and North Carolina, to go along with a home in her district on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and a home in Washington D.C. near her office on Capitol Hill. Maloney also received a small salary of $26, 955 from Sea Bay Development Corp.
7. Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D – New York) – Net Worth: $12.82 million
6. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D – Missouri) – Net Worth: $14.93 million
Senator Claire McCaskill’s net worth slipped a bit last year, by about $700,000. It was enough to knock her down four pegs in the Top 50 Richest Members of Congress. Still, she came in at number 24 with a net worth that most people wouldn’t scoff at. Most of McCaskill’s assets are held by her husband, Joseph Shepard, and just over half of these are real estate investments including the Missouri and Georgia Housing Tax Credit funds. She also reported $500,000 in Berkshire Hathaway stock. Buffet has made recent comments about the current tax structure that Democrats have mostly approved of, so it makes sense that McCaskill would consider supporting his investment.
5. Rep Suzan DelBene (D – Washington) – Net Worth: $23.91 million
Representative Suzan DelBene is actually a newcomer to the list, making her debut as the 16th wealthiest member of Congress right off the bat. And unlike many others, she actually has none of her investments tied up in real estate. Her investments are mostly tied to tech investments – she and her husband both worked for Microsoft in the 1990s. However, at least $8 million of her net worth is invested in bonds that finance hospitals, universities, electrical utilities, transportation projects and urban development.
4. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D – California) – Net Worth: $24.45 million
Nancy Pelosi’s overall position dropped from 13th to 15th among her fellow members of Congress since last year, and she reported about $2 million less than in 2011. The House minority leader still has enough wealth to go around though, so we doubt she’s hurting too much. Most of her wealth comes from real estate holdings -$22.98 million worth of holdings to be exact. One of the properties she owns with her husband is a St. Helena vineyard that generates $50,000 annually in grape sales. A good chunk of this congresswoman’s wealth also comes from her husband, who has invested wisely in companies such as Apple, Facebook, and Shutterfly.
3. Rep. Diane Black (R- Tennessee) – Net Worth: $24.94 million
Representative Diane Black is 14th overall when considering the wealth of both male and female Congresspeople. A hefty proportion of that wealth comes from real estate holdings, and she purchased two new homes in 2012, bringing her real estate investment total up to $19.10 million. Of course, she also lists $9.5 million in mortgages. One of her largest listed assets comes from Aegis Sciences Corp. which her husband founded, and where he still serves as president and CEO. The couple also list about $2.77 million in bank accounts on top of $12.58 million in investments.
2. Rep. Chellie Pingree (D – Maine) – Net Worth: $34.45 million
Representative Pingree actually rose in the overall rankings by one position between 2012 and 2013. She’s now the 11th wealthiest member of Congress, and her wealth grew by about $8 million in 2012. Most of that came from the $22 million worth of investments she holds with her husband, Wall Street financier Donald Sussman. Pingree also holds $1.52 million in assets in her own name as well, though. She listed assets in energy, real estate, software and media. In 2012, her real estate investments alone accounted for $10.6 million. Sussman also bought a controlling share of Maine Today Media Holdings which publishes the two largest newspapers in Pingree’s district. Apparently all is fair in politics, even when owning significant shares in local media enterprises.
1. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) – Net Worth: $41.67 million
Senator Feinstein tops the wealthiest Congresswoman list, but where does this compare to her male counterparts? She comes in number nine overall. Part of her wealth comes from holdings she shares with her husband, Richard Blum, the president and CEO of Blum Capital Partners LP. Her husband’s independent assets above $1 million don’t have to be listed on the Senate disclosure form, though, so she very well could be even wealthier than she appears. So how did Feinstein accumulate her wealth? Mostly from real estate investments, it appears – including condos on Lake Merced in San Francisco and in Hawaii, as well as one in Tahoe City, California. She also holds a stake in San Francisco’s Carlton Hotel Properties worth somewhere between $5 million and $25 million, which reportedly generated more than $1 million in income last year. Feinstein and her husband have 17 different investment accounts, and they are listed as a stakeholder in OZ Fitness Inc.