Many members of congress are quite wealthy. While some of them have family money or married into a sizable fortune, a good number of members of the House of Representatives and United States Senate made their money after starting a business. In fact, some of them still hold their businesses to this day! Here is a list of nine wealthy members of congress and the self-employment that helped them reach the top tiers of wealth.
Darrell Issa – California
Darrell Issa is a United States Representative from California. While as a young man he was charged (never convicted) with two counts of car theft, Issa turned a $7,000 investment into a well-known car protection brand. This helped him transform his family’s consumer electronics business into DEI, the company behind the popular Viper car alarm. The once California governor hopeful sold the business in 2000, the same year he made a successful run for congress with $2 million of his own dollars. His net worth, primarily thanks to proceeds from the sale of his business, is over $250 million.
John Delaney – Maryland
John Delaney is a member of the House of Representatives from Potomac, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC. He doesn’t have to worry about the high cost of living in the city, however, as his net worth comes in at $91 million. Delaney made his money as founder and CEO of CapitalSource, which he sold in 2014. He stepped down from daily work at the company when running for office in 2012. Prior to CapitalSource, Delaney owned HealthCare Financial Partners, the initial source of his massive wealth. Delaney is expected to run for governor of Maryland in the 2018 election.
Jared Polis – Colorado
Colorado’s Jared Polis is worth $90 million, much of which came from success in the tech boom of the 1990s. Polis is invested in a handful of companies including Uber, but his big money came from founding BlueMountain.com, an online greeting card site, and then ProFlowers. Polis also founded and sat at the helm of a chain of movie theaters targeting the Spanish speaking community. Polis is noteworthy for his work for gay rights and holds the distinction of the first openly gay member of congress who is also a parent.
Dave Trott – Michigan
Michigan Representative Dave Trott is worth $73 million. His wealth came from turning his family’s small law firm into a massive real estate firm that took to the driver’s seat in the Great Recession’s housing crisis. Trott’s company ran foreclosures for major banks and lenders, and was responsible for evicting about 80,000 families just in Michigan. Despite the firm with his name removing them from their homes, suburban Detroit residents were happy to make him their representative in the House. As a warm thank you, Trott and his wife expanded their legal real estate businesses to include legal notices, title searches, and reselling homes repossessed by his clients.
Vern Buchanan – Florida
Representative Vern Buchanan is worth about $50 million, largely thanks to two car dealerships he owns in Sarasota. He has also recently held ownership stakes in an aircraft holding and leasing company. When he’s not busy running his car dealerships, or his job in congress, he also owns a portfolio of rental properties around Florida. At one point, Buchanan owned about two dozen dealerships around the Southeastern United States, though he was accused of quite a bit of wrongdoing as an auto sales mogul before heading north to Washington.
Scott Peters – California
Representative Peters is technically not a business owner, but he gets an honorable mention on this list thanks to his wife, Lynn Gorguze, who is the boss at a private equity firm. Her father founded Cameron Holdings, which Peters is lucky to have married into.
James Renacci – Ohio
Representative Renacci made his money as a self-made accountant and consultant. The CPA started his career in Pittsburgh doing accounting and consulting work for the nursing home industry. After moving to Ohio, he founded a business that included investments in nursing homes, which he was already very familiar with thanks to his CPA and consulting history. He now holds diverse investments across several industries including long-term care businesses, real estate, and a stake in Harley Davidson. Thanks to his successful management of his own business and other investments, Renacci has a net worth over $30 million.
Roger Williams – Texas
Roger Williams served as Secretary of State for Texas before moving into the House of Representatives, but, like everyone else on this list, he didn’t make his money as a public servant. Williams owns several car dealerships including his flagship Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership in Fort Worth. In addition to his dealerships, held by his company JRW Corporation, he owns car washes in the area. Williams is worth $27 million.
Claire McCaskill – Missouri
Senator Claire McCaskill is another “honorable mention,” as most of her family’s wealth comes from her husband who is listed as the owner of eight businesses in her congressional financial disclosures. The pair also own an aviation company that hold a private jet McCaskill and her husband use for some travel. They also hold real estate and other investments. An author, McCaskill also brings in revenue each year from Simon & Schuster, her book’s publisher. McCaskill has a net worth of $19 million.
Business success helps with a congressional bid
While President Obama didn’t pay off his student loans until after the election, many politicians, including President Trump, have run successful campaigns drawing on their own wealth as a source of campaign funds. While spending a lot doesn’t guarantee a victory, it doesn’t hurt. When looking at how they made their money, a good number of members of congress did so through their own business.
Remember that they were just normal business owners prior to a run for congress. Maybe your small business will grow so much you will find yourself on the way to office!
This article was originally written on June 16, 2017.