A Couple of Astonishing Facts About Congress

Vote Display in the US House of Representatives

The Net Worth of Members of Congress is Astonishing

If you add up the net worth of all members of Congress you get to the eye staggering figure of $7 billion. The net worth of the individuals varies greatly, but this means that the median average net worth of each member of Congress in 2015 is $13.4 million. To put this into context, the median net worth of the average American is $81,000.

There are of course some huge individual variations in the net worth of members of Congress. There are five Senators who have a net worth in excess of $200 million each. There are some poorer members of Congress too, who are dragging down the average net worth. The unluckiest are actually showing a negative, not a positive.

More than half of all members of Congress are millionaires. In 2015 it was estimated that there were 271 members of the millionaires club in Congress. Darrell Issa of California is very much the richest leader of the pack with an estimated net worth of $450 million. Mark Warner of Virginia trails Warner by quite a long way, but still manages a net worth of $254 million.

A Convicted Felon Can Serve in Congress

The American people could perhaps expect that there were rules which prevented a convicted felon from being a member of Congress. Being convicted of a felony in the United States has serious and ongoing consequences for the individual concerned.  You might be surpised how many of our Congress has committed crimes: Trey Radel, Laura Richardson, Jesse Jackson Jr., and many others are known for what they’ve done.

Most states ban convicted felons from voting whilst they are in prison. Some states also will not permit felons to vote after they are released from prison for a certain period of time. In some states a convicted felon can never vote again.

A convicted felon cannot be employed as a teacher, serve in the United States Military, or be employed in law enforcement. Any employer is allowed to do a background check and can discriminate against anyone with a felony conviction. Yet, there is nothing in the Constitution to bar a convicted felon from serving in Congress.

Congressman Michael Grimm was facing a 20 count indictment when he was elected to Congress. One month later he entered a guilty plea on the felony charges. He told reporters after he entered the guilty plea, “So long as I am able to serve, I will serve.”

Amazingly there is nothing in the Constitution or in any legislation which prevented him from serving in Congress. The one provision which could have resulted in his removal from Congress is if two thirds of the members of the House voted to expel him. This never seemed to be a very likely outcome as this provision has only been used on two occasions since the civil war.

Whilst the Constitution and the law didn’t prevent his wish to serve and his colleagues didn’t propose a vote to expel him, Congressman Michael Grimm did not serve in Congress for too long after he entered his guilty plea to felony charges. He made the decision to step down and resign from Congress just 6 days after he entered his guilty plea.

Keep watching the news, because you can always find another politician taking bribes!



Photo by lordsutch