Buchanan's wealth drops, but he's still in Congress' Top 10

mmasferrer@bradenton.comJanuary 11, 2014 

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, slipped from fifth place to sixth in 2012 in the latest look at the wealth of members of the U.S. House.

Determining a lawmaker's exact wealth is difficult because representatives and senators only have to report their assets and liabilities in broad ranges. The Center for Responsive Politics, which compiles information gathered from publicly available disclosure forms, derives an average to develop its rankings.

In 2012, CRP said Buchanan's wealth was somewhere between a minimum net worth of minus $58.1 million to more than $235.7 million, for an average of $88.8 million, down from $108.2 million a year earlier.

On his 2012 disclosure form, Buchanan listed 142 assets, with values ranging from $58.6 million to $259.6 million. His holdings include stocks, bonds, real estate, auto dealerships and an aircraft leasing firm.

He also listed 18 liabilities, mostly mortgages and other loans, worth between more than $26.9 million and $132 million.

Despite the apparent decline in his wealth, Buchanan did remain in the list of 10 wealthiest members of Congress, including both the House and Senate. On that list, he fell between Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., with an average wealth of almost $101.3 million, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at $88 million.

The wealthiest member of Congress, according to CRP, is Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., at more than $464.1 million.

For the first time in history, more than half of the members of Congress -- at least 268 of 534 members -- are millionaires, according to CRP.

The center found the average net worth of congressional Democrats was $1.04 million, compared to $1 million for Republicans.

"Despite the fact that polls show how dissatisfied Americans are with Congress overall, there's been no change in our appetite to elect affluent politicians to represent our concerns in Washington," Sheila Krumholz, executive director of CRP, said when releasing the numbers Thursday. "Of course, it's undeniable that in our electoral system, candidates need access to wealth to run financially viable campaigns, and the most successful fundraisers are politicians who swim in those circles to begin win."

Buchanan, who has not been shy about dipping into his wealth to fund his campaigns despite his fundraising prowess, is the wealthiest lawmaker in Washington from Florida.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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