Leaders Beat the Economy’s Pace With 2010 Gains

Posted June 15, 2011 at 6:56pm

The economy may be sputtering, but 2010 appears to have been a good year for the financial portfolios of Members of Congress, whose annual financial disclosure forms were released Wednesday. Some highlights:

• Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) appears to have become the richest Member of Congress, overtaking Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who has topped the list since 2008. Issa reported a minimum net worth of $220 million, an almost $60 million jump over last year. The huge change appears to be the result of Issa moving several real estate assets out of a single account and into separate corporate entities, requiring the values of the buildings to be reported separately and creating an apparent increase in wealth.

• Don’t cry for Kerry: According to his latest financial disclosure form, Kerry’s minimum net worth is about $193 million, a slight increase over the $188 million fortune he reported in 2009. Kerry — who married into the Heinz ketchup fortune — may still be the wealthier Member because his wife holds most of the assets and lawmakers are to report spousal assets in a special category labeled “over $1 million.” With no upper limit in those categories, it is impossible to know what the Kerry-Heinz family is worth, but Forbes magazine estimated Teresa Heinz Kerry’s net worth at more than $1 billion in 2008.

• House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) saw her reported net worth jump from
$21.7 million last year to $35.2 million this year. The change is largely the result of three of Pelosi’s husband’s investments — two office buildings and a United Football League team — rising in value from a $1 million minimum value to a $5 million minimum value. The change may boost Pelosi into the top 10 richest Members of the 112th Congress.

• Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) reported increased wealth on the strength of a jump in value of 160 acres of land in Bullhead City, Ariz. The land was previously valued at $250,000 to $500,000; Reid now reports it is worth $1 million to $5 million. Reid has been criticized in the past for supporting an earmark to build a bridge in the area that could enhance the value of his land.

• Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was a newcomer to the 50 richest club in 2008 on the strength of a $5 million gift from the father of his wife, former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao. But he has done well with the money. His reported assets in 2010 were at least $9.8 million, up about $2.7 million over the prior year.

• Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reported a minimum net worth of $2.1 million in 2010, an increase over his reported $1.75 million total in 2009.

– Alex Knott, Niels Lesniewski, Paul Singer and Jennifer Yachnin