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Does Access Drive Political Wealth?

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Key Points

If you have ever dreamed of joining a millionaire’s club, consider running for Congress. As of 2020, the median net worth of current Congressmembers exceeds $1 million. This is nearly ten times the median net worth of US households in the same year, just over $120,000. But Congress isn’t just rich, it is increasingly rich.

For example, in 2008, California Representative Judy Chu was not worth six figures. Now her net worth is $7.1 million. Between 2004 and 2020, Senator Mitch McConnell’s net worth rose from $3 million to $34 million. In that same time period, House Leader Nancy Pelosi saw her net worth jump from $41 million to $115 million.

Nancy Pelosi is arguably the poster-child for vastly increasing your wealth while in Congress. In 2008, Pelosi and her husband got special access to Visa’s Initial Public Offering and purchased shares valued between $1 million and $5 million. Beginning in 2009, financial disclosures reveal that Pelosi’s husband, Paul, has a history of purchasing Amazon call options around the Pentagon’s JEDI program-related milestones.

These fact patterns reveal behavior from politicians that watchdogs and citizens alike have decried for years. In fact, the STOCK Act, a law that Congress quickly passed after author Peter Schweizer elevated it to a national audience, was designed to address these types of actions.

Sadly, Congress gutted the law in the middle of the night, not long after passing it.