Congress Immigration

The Capitol Dome of the Capitol Building at sunrise, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, in Washington. The Senate is ready for a showdown debate over immigration, including whether to protect young "Dreamers" from deportation, in an election-year battle that's sure to electrify both parties' most fervent voters and could well end in stalemate. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ORG XMIT: WX101

None of the members Louisiana's congressional delegation cracked the list of Capitol Hill's 50 wealthiest politicians but at least two can count themselves as millionaire, according to an analysis of financial disclosure forms by Roll Call.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, appears to be the wealthiest of the bunch, with a net worth estimated at roughly $6.4 million, which placed him 55th on Roll Call's ranking of all the senators and representatives in Congress.

Behind Kennedy was U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a farmer, physician and veterinarian from Richland Parish, whose net worth Roll Call estimated at $4.8 million, or 67th on the list of 530 members (there are currently four vacancies in the U.S. House of Representatives and Sen. Tina Murphy, a Minnesota Democrat appointed earlier this year to replaced former Sen. Al Franken, hasn't yet filed a disclosure form).

Though figures represent substantial holdings, they fall well short of the fortunes amassed by some of Congress' wealthiest members.

Roll Call named U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, a California Republican who co-founded Directed Electronics, as the richest person on the Hill with an estimated net worth of $283 million. Greg Gianforte, a software tycoon and freshman Republican congressman from Montana, ranked second at an estimated $135.7 million.

The publication's estimates relied on federally mandated financial disclosure forms filed for 2016, the most recent year available. The disclosures provide a snapshot of politicians' assets and debts.

But because values are reported in broad ranges and the forms leave off some key categories of wealth, the picture Roll Call pieced together from the forms likely understates the actual net worth of most members and in most cases represents a conservative estimate of their holdings.

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, clocked in third among the Louisiana delegation but 327th in Congress with an estimated net worth of $200,000. Roll Call's calculations peg the net work of all the remaining Louisiana members at either $0 (Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre) or at negative net worths (Reps. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge; Mike Johnson, R-Bossier; Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans; and Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson).

Those figures provide what's almost certainly an unreliable look at the finances of the less-well-heeled in Congress.

The values of members' homes, the most substantial asset for many American families, aren't included on the financial disclosure forms — but home mortgages are counted as debts, depressing a member's net worth while leaving home equity out of the calculation.

Members also disclose the value of assets in relatively broad ranges: $1 to $1,000; $1,001 to $15,000; $15,000 to $50,000; and so on. Roll Call calculated net worths using only the low end of those ranges, creating conservative estimates that likely understate substantially the value of many members' holdings.

Because members often disclose dozens of assets — between bank and retirement accounts, real estate holdings or tracks of undeveloped properties — those broad ranges make estimating net worth based off the forms difficult.

That's especially true for members of relatively modest means whose net worth is largely tied up in equity in their homes — the value of which isn't included in the disclosures — and have outstanding mortgages, which count against other assets like pensions and investments.

Roll Call also noted in their report that the accuracy and completeness of the forms appears to be spotty, with errors or omissions on the forms bringing relatively little in the way of punishment from the congressional committees charged with enforcing ethics rules.