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Five Wisconsin Members of Congress are Multi-Millionaires

PHOTO: Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says Congress is not in touch with the average American. (Photo provided by Wisconsin Democracy Campaign)
PHOTO: Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign says Congress is not in touch with the average American. (Photo provided by Wisconsin Democracy Campaign)
January 15, 2014

MADISON, Wis. - Members of Congress have for decades been far wealthier than the typical American, but a new analysis from the Center for Responsive Politics shows that, for the first time ever, most members of Congress are millionaires.

Mike McCabe, executive director of the nonpartisan Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, said far too many lawmakers don't really understand issues such as unemployment and food stamps, or what it's like to have to constantly struggle to make ends meet, as millions of Americans do every day.

"How can you be the world's greatest representative body," he said, "when your members are disconnected from the realities that most Americans face every day?"

The analysis showed that 268 of the 534 current members of Congress are millionaires, with several worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Being rich is not bad per se, McCabe said, but Congress has become a group not representative of America.

"There's nothing that says that a rich person can't be a good public servant," McCabe said, "but when you have an entire institution that is filled with nothing but people whose lives are very different than your average American, that's a problem."

The analysis showed Rep. Tom Petri to be the most wealthy member of the Wisconsin delegation, with an average net worth of $25 million, and Sen. Ron Johnson right behind Petri at $24 million. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, Paul Ryan and Reed Ribble are the other multi-millionaire members of the Wisconsin delegation. All five are Republicans.

Congress has more in common with the tycoons of Wall Street than with ordinary Americans, McCabe said, since so many are heavily invested in the stock market and huge banks.

"One of the things that really amazes me is how little talk there is in the halls of Congress - or in the state Legislature in Wisconsin, for that matter - about poverty," McCabe said, "and yet you've got 50 million Americans living below the poverty line and you've got 50 million more who are right on the verge of poverty. They're barely above the poverty line."

The analysis showed Sen. Tammy Baldwin to be the most wealthy Democrat from the Wisconsin delegation, with an average net worth of well under $1 million.

The list is online at opensecrets.org.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI