US lawmakers personal wealth rose 16 percent

Wed Nov 17, 2010 6:33pm GMT
 

* Rep. Issa the richest lawmaker for second year

* Financial, drug companies popular with lawmakers

* Twenty-four lawmakers owned BP stock in 2009

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON, Nov 17 (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers' personal wealth rose 16 percent between 2008 and 2009 while many invested in financial and health care sectors under scrutiny by Congress, the Center for Responsive Politics said in a report released on Wednesday.

Republican Representative Darrell Issa was the wealthiest member of Congress for the second year in a row, with assets of about $303 million dollars, according to the group, which puts together data from financial disclosure reports filled out by lawmakers.

The second wealthiest was another Californian, Democratic Representative Jane Harman, with wealth estimated at $293 million. Democratic Senator John Kerry was third with $239 million dollars in net worth. In all, eight lawmakers were worth more than $100 million dollars, the group said.

Lawmakers held a median of $911,510 in assets in 2009, up from $785,515 in 2008.

The median net worth of U.S. representatives rose to $765,010 in 2009, up from $645,503 in 2008. Senators, on the other hand, saw their median holdings rise to nearly $2.38 million last year from $2.27 million in 2008.

Twenty-four lawmakers reported holding BP (BP.L: Quote) in 2009, and it is too early to tell if they sold after the April 2010 explosion and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that killed 11 people and damaged marine and wildlife habitats.

Despite congressional scrutiny of the financial sector in 2009, 63 lawmakers were invested in Bank of America (BAC.N: Quote) stock while 27 had invested in Goldman Sachs (GS.N: Quote).

Drug and other health related companies were also popular investments in 2009 in the run-up to health care reform, with 49 lawmakers reported owning Pfizer (PFE.N: Quote) shares, 39 invested in Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N: Quote), 27 in Merck (MRK.N: Quote), 25 in Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N: Quote) and 23 in CVS (CVS.N: Quote). (Editing by Derek Caney)

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