Comparing net worth of members of Congress to that of average family in U.S.

Here's a worthwhile resource designed to track the wealth of federal lawmakers -- even though, as the letter below explains, limitations in the disclosure system limit the accuracy of the website's estimates. The bar graphs comparing the growth of the wealth of these "public servants" who claim to represent us with that of the average United Statian family (i.e. those they claim to be serving) are priceless. A term I like to use when talking about issues like this is "government greed." Too many people still associate greed with the private sector, and have a notion that government employees are more altruistic and more concerned with the public good than others working outside government. Exposing the growing wealth of people at the top levels of governments should help destroy this myth and clarify in the minds of the public how much they are being ripped off by "their" government.

Love & Liberty,
        ((( starchild )))

Dear Sunlighters,

Just as members of Congress are filing their latest annual
personal disclosure reports (due tomorrow,05/15/08 but not available for
a month), 06/16/2008 the Sunlight Foundation is launching a new Web site —
Fortune 535 (— which lets
you track how much, or how little, lawmakers' wealth has grown.

For the first time ever, we compiled and visualized online
lawmakers' net worth from personal financial disclosure filings
to show the growth in net worth for each member of Congress from
1995 to 2006. These filings reveal lawmakers' personal
finances—assets, liabilities, outside income—and the gifts and
travel provided for them by outside organizations. Fortune 535
also lets you compare the net worth growth of each lawmaker to
that of the average American family.

One thing we learned while working on this project: measuring
lawmakers' net worth is very difficult (and sometimes impossible)
because of the seriously flawed disclosure system used by members
of Congress. Because the personal financial disclosure reports
lawmakers file asks for assets and liabilities in ranges, we could
not determine whether some lawmakers, like Speaker Pelosi, are
extremely wealthy or on the verge of declaring bankruptcy
(or somewhere in between). That's why we support more precise
reporting requirements ( as well as full
online disclosure and preservation of lawmakers' personal
financial disclosure reports.

For each of the 535 members of Congress, there are 535 individual
stories told through stock portfolios, rental houses, mortgages,
student loans and ownership of stock in multi-million dollar
corporations. The data we reveal should certainly raise questions
for citizens and journalists to ask about the rising and declining
fortunes of their elected officials.

Check out the site ( and
see how your elected representatives compare to you. Does this
information surprise you? Let us know by commenting on this blog

Thanks for your support,

Communications Director