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Report Shows Half of the Members of Congress are Millionaires

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- More than half of the members of congress are millionaires. That's according to a study from The Center for Responsive Politics. That group came up with its figures from 2012 disclosure forms.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. --  More than half of the members of congress are millionaires.  That's according to a study from the center for responsive politics.

That group came up with its figures from 2012 disclosure forms.    

We looked into what the lawmakers representing the Ozarks are worth.  We examined the numbers for two Missouri congress members who represent the Ozarks, two Arkansas congressmen, and the two senators from both Missouri and Arkansas.

"The members of congress are getting progressively more wealthy," says MSU Associate Political Science Professor Brian Calfano.  "I mean, really, how much commonality is there when you've got members of congress worth not just a few million, but hundreds of millions of dollars."

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill's average net worth rang in at nearly $21 million.  Republican Senator Roy Blunt's was right around $3.5 million.

"How much can someone going into congress worth millions and millions of dollars understand what it's like to be in the economic situation a lot of folks in the Ozarks and northern Arkansas happen to be in?" Calfano says.  "Certainly it doesn't mean they can't represent people who are different from them, but this idea of descriptive representation is really important."

The Center for Responsive Politics found in 2012 that Missouri's 7th District Congressman Billy Long's average net worth was close to $3 million.  4th District Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler's average was around $8 million.

"It does cost a bit of money to keep two residences," says Calfano.  "So you have folks who live in the district or state they're representing, but they also have to keep residences in Washington or northern Virginia."

As for Arkansas lawmakers representing the Ozarks, Republican Congressman Steve Womack was worth about $129,000. 

Republican Rick Crawford was somewhere around $175,000 in debt.

Republican Senator John Boozman was worth about $3.5 million.

Democratic Senator Mark Pryor was worth $8,500.

"Does that mean someone like Senator Pryor is in a better position to represent the lower income bracket?  Not necessarily," says Calfano.  "But I think from an individual's standpoint, they look at that and think that individual will understand me in a better way, right?  There's more of a connection between the people and their representative."

Missouri's 3rd District Congressman Jason Smith was not listed because he was not serving in 2012. 

Calfano says a  lot of this wealth was accrued before they went into politics, or they may have wealthy family members.

California Representative Darrell Issa topped the list with an average net worth of just over $464 million.
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