While the wealth of Congress surged $150 million last year and at least a third of federal lawmakers are millionaires, there’s a sizable group of have-nots in Congress too.
Some 132 members of Congress — nearly a quarter — have a negative minimum net worth. That includes the 10 “Poorest” Members of Congress, who all have substantial debt .
Negative territory starts at No. 407 on Roll Call’s first-ever complete ranking of lawmakers by their minimum net worth , with Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama earning the distinction . That place is just below Democratic Rep. James P. Moran of Virginia, who has a flat zero in the assets column . Brooks’ minimum net worth dropped from last year, when his financial disclosure forms reviewed by Roll Call showed he was worth a minimum $180,000.
Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle places at No. 408, with at least $170,000 in liabilities and $160,000 in assets. That doesn’t mean each of the 132 lawmakers from Brooks on down have actual negative net worth — many own homes, personal property or have non-interest-bearing bank accounts that are among the assets that do not have to be disclosed under congressional reporting rules.
Or they might have substantially more assets than the minimum in the broad value ranges allowed on the disclosure forms. Roll Call calculates the rankings by subtracting the minimum value liabilities from the minimum value of assets.
But the numbers do contrast sharply with the minimum 188 millionaires we found in our analysis. And all of them have a debt of one kind or another — a mortgage to pay, a student loan, a credit card bill, an account with Best Buy .
It also helps explain why the 50 Richest lawmakers have 80 percent of the combined minimum net worth of Congress . While the 50 Richest have at least $1.7 billion combined, the bottom 132 members’ combined score is a negative $40 million.
Wealth, in Congress as in the public at large, is concentrated at the top.
You can sort the full list of haves and have-nots in our Wealth of Congress interactive .
Jay Hunter contributed to this report.
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