How Montana’s Delegation Compares to the U.S. Legislature’s ‘Millionaires’ Club’
A January 2, 2014 study by the Center for Responsive Politics found that "for the first time in history, most members of Congress are millionaires." But how did Montana congressional representatives Steve Daines, Jon Tester, and Max Baucus fit into that picture?
"Two of your delegation rank in the top half," said Center for Responsive Politics Research Director Sarah Brymer . "Daines is ranked at 34 right now. He actually holds considerable wealth, predominantly in real estate. Tester [ranked 63rd in Senate] is right around the middle of the pack . Then Baucus is ranked at 340 out of 535... that's around half a million."
Much of that wealth came to congress with the candidate, but it is interesting to see how the money has ebbed and flowed during their time in office.
"For Baucus and Tester, [their wealth while in office] has basically stayed the same. Tester saw a small dip when the housing market collapsed, I think it's because many of his assets are in real estate and crops and such, and that area took a hit. But Daines, his wealth has increased substantially. Average last year around 14 million, and then, this year, around 24 million."
It is important to note that the net worth is reported in ranges and is not an absolute figure by any means. For example, a senator with a net worth of 30 million would report in the 25 to 50 million range.
It's easy to see how one could build wealth in Washington D.C. Every year in office, the members of Montana's congressional delegation are paid $174,000 each. By contrast, the U.S. Census Bureau places the average Montana yearly income at just $24,002: that's a full $3,000 below the national average and less than a fifth of what congresspeople make.