In an effort to be transparent and to prevent the possibility of conflicts of interest from occurring within the government, the Ethics in Government Act requires many elected officials to, each year, file a financial disclosure statement that reveals their various assets, investments, and businesses interests. Senators are one of the groups of people who must make this disclosure. These disclosure statements are made available to the public and can give a good idea of the financial position of their filers. Below, we will take a look at the seven wealthiest people in the U.S. Senate, and learn how exactly they built their fortunes, according to the 2014 filings.
Sen. Mark Warner (D)
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia is by far the wealthiest member of the U.S. Senate. He is also the third-richest legislator in Congress, which consists of all the members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate. At the time of writing, the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington nonpartisan political research organization, estimated the senator’s net worth to be just under $243 million. Born in 1954, he grew up in a typical American middle-class household. From as early as college, Sen. Warner had political aspirations. At one point during his time as a political science student, he even suggested to his parents that he would one day become president.
The vast majority of Warner’s wealth came from Columbia Capital, a venture capital firm he founded shortly after graduating law school. Under his direction, the firm made several successful early investments in companies that operated in the telecommunication industry, including XM Satellite Radio and Nextel Communications, which was acquired by Sprint in 2005 for $36 billion.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)
California’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s estimated $94 million net worth makes her the second-wealthiest serving senator. Blum Capital, a private equity firm founded in 1975 by her husband. Richard Blum, is the source for most of that wealth. Feinstein’s financial disclosure statement for 2014 revealed that she had anywhere from $5 million to $25 million invested in a blind trust. She also had between $3.1 million to $7.3 million in various money market accounts.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D)
Based on recent financial disclosure statements, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal and his wife’s personal fortune falls somewhere in the range of $65 million to $85 million. His spouse, Cynthia Malkin, is a real estate investor, as well as an heiress to the Malkin property empire. In addition to real estate, the couple’s investment portfolio include between $600,000 to $1.2 million in gold and several million dollars in hedge funds.
Sen. James E. Risch (R)
Sen. James Risch of Idaho is another wealthy member of the U.S. Senate. The Center for Responsive Politics estimates that the senator has a net worth of $53 million, much of which is invested in more than 260 acres of farm and ranch land in Idaho.
Sen. John Hoeven (R)
Sen. John Hoeven has served as the senior U.S. senator from North Dakota since 2011. Before that, he was the state’s governor for 10 years. His 2014 financial disclosure filings show that his net worth is at least $17 million and could be as much as $73.2 million. While it is unclear how exactly he made his fortune, Sen. Hoeven worked as a bank executive before he started his political career. Among his assets are $1 million to $5 million in checking and savings accounts, and a $5 million to $25 million stake in a privately held medical equipment supplier company called Northwest Respiratory Services. His income from that business alone that year was just over $2.1 million.
Sen. Bob Corker (R)
Tennessee's Bob Corker is also one of the country richest senators. He created his estimated $45 million net worth as a result of a series of successful entrepreneurial endeavors. His first business venture was a construction company that he started at the age of 25 with $8,000 that he had managed to save during his time in college. The business became a success in a relatively short space of time and eventually was sold in 1990. He later acquired the two largest real estate holding companies in Tennessee's Hamilton County, making him, at one point, the largest private landowner in the county. As of his most recent filing, Sen. Corker owned a portfolio of more than a dozen mutual funds as well as a $5 million to $25 million rental property called The Volunteer Building. The senator earns between $1 million to $5 million from the property each year.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R)
With an estimated net worth of $36 million, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin is the seventh-wealthiest person in the U.S. Senate. Like many of the richest people in Congress, Sen. Johnson made his fortune in the world of business before he became a politician. In the late '70s, the senator began employment as an accountant at PACUR, a Wisconsin-based polyester and plastics manufacturing company owned by his brother-in-law. As time passed, he moved up through the ranks, and eventually became the company's CEO by the mid-'80s. As at Dec. 2014, he owned 5% of the company and earned a little more than $4.8 million from the business that year. His other assets include between $6.1 million to $27.3 million in money market accounts, and commercial property in Oshkosh, Wisc., that is valued between $5 million to $25 million.
The Bottom Line
Each year many U.S. elected officials, including senators, are required to file a financial disclosure statement with the government that outlines their various assets, liabilities and outside income sources. According to 2014 filings, the seven wealthiest members of the U.S. Senate combined are worth as much as $930 million. The three richest senators currently serving are all affiliated with the Democratic Party and have a minimum net worth of no less than $65 million. Based on 2014 filings, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia had an estimated net worth of $242 million, making him the wealthiest member of the Senate. The majority of his wealth came as a result of early investments in successful technology companies.