K. Mennem 7:17 p.m., June 17
Two San Diego pols reported among top richest in Congress
Democrat Peters and Republican Issa make San Diego county one of America's top concentrations of congressional wealth, according to new ranking
The website OpenSecrets.org, run by Washington's non-profit Center for Responsive Politics, is out with its Congressional wealth rankings, and San Diego county can boast two members in the top twenty: Republican Darrell Issa and Democrat Scott Peters.
Congressional disclosure reports provide only a broad range for the value of each asset and liability, so the net worth rankings provided by OpenSecrets are only approximate, and the lack of precision can leave open some big questions.
For instance, Peters’s net worth, according to OpenSecrets, is listed at between minus $33,719,896 to $206,167,994, producing an average of $86,224,049.
That number puts him just above California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, married to multi-millionaire Richard Blum. She ranks number 15 with an average of $70,725,124.
Presumably Peters is worth a bit more than his reported minimum; a big chunk of his campaign was self-financed and he's been spreading around a few dollars of his own to other San Diego politicians.
According to a major donor statement for 2012 posted online this month by the California Secretary of State's office, Peters personally gave a total of $20,215 to state campaign committees last year, including $1500, on December 28, to this year's Democratic bid of labor leader Lorena Gonzalez for Assembly and $500 on November 27 to GOP-turned-independent ex-Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher's failed Fletcher for Mayor 2012 committee.
OpenSecrets also notes the spousal money is included in the financial reports:
Senate, House, Executive branch and Judicial rules require the disclosure of items belonging to the filer's spouse and/or dependent children. When present, those items are displayed on this page and are included in all calculations throughout this section.
Peters's wife, Lynn Gorguze, is the daughter of La Jolla industrialist Vincent T. Gorguze, a Mitt Romney for President donor.
But while Democrat Peters had added to the financial heft of the local Democratic House delegation, North County Republican Darrell Issa still beats him on points, being ranked the number two wealthiest House member in the OpenSecrets survey.
Issa's net worth is said by OpenSecrets to be between $215,550,040 and $745,099,999, for an average of $480,325,019.
As reported here last year, the car alarm magnate's huge liablities consisted of loans from Merrill Lynch and Union Bank.
Ninety-four new senators and House members joined the 113th Congress. But if voters felt the last group of lawmakers was out of touch with "real America," the new class may not be better. In fact, according to a new analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, the median estimated net worth of the incoming freshmen is almost exactly $1 million more than that of the typical American household.
There has been some change at the top, though: For years, the wealthiest member of Congress was Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who made his fortune with his alarm business, but in 2011 he was surpassed by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), whose average estimated net worth was $500.1 million, up more than 31.6 percent from $380.4 million in 2010. Much of McCaul's wealth is due to his wife, Linda, the daughter of Clear Channel Communications Chairman Lowry Mays.
Issa's fortune this year is estimated to be $480.3 million -- still an increase over our 2010 estimate of his average net worth, $448 million, but not enough to keep up with McCaul.
If the average net worth of every member of Congress is added together, we estimate that their total combined net worth in 2011 was about $4.5 billion.