Study Shows Congressional Delegation’s Wealth

Jerry Bohnen
Contributing Editor

A recent Washington Post study of the wealth of those in Congress shows Oklahomans serving in the House and Senate fit what the Post found…that the wealthy survived the recession while those not so wealthy, barely kept their neck above water.

In short, the rich got richer while those in the lower tax brackets increased their wealthy only modestly. And the figures seem to have dispelled the notion that people go to congress to get rich.
Figures supplied by the Washington Post and the Center for Responsive Politics showed U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe remains the wealthiest of those from Oklahoma. And the $11.3 million in wealth he reported in 2010, the year of the most current figures, represented a 225% increase of what he reported in 2004.  Like 74 other lawmakers, Inhofe reported that 78% of his wealth was in the name of his wife.
Congressman Tom Cole’s wealth grew from $2.7 million in 2004 to $3.7 million in 2010—a 39% increase. His largest jump in wealth occurred in 2006 before he took hits in the recession.  His wealth finally started climbing again in 2009.
Ranked third wealthiest among Oklahoma’s Representatives and Senators is Senator Tom Coburn.  His $3.2 million listed in 2010 represented a 38% growth since 2004.  Like others in congress, his wealth took a hit in 2006 and started to recover in 2009.
The Post found that when it came to wealth, no one political party had an economic edge on the other.  But it found those who serve in the U.S. Senate were likely to be much wealthier than members of the House of Representatives.
The study also found that on average, senators saw their wealth grow by 70% while those in the House saw an increase of 15%.
Oklahoma’s only Democrat in congress, Congressman Dan Boren, listed $1.8 million in wealth in 2010 and that was 199% more than what he reported in 2004.  His wealth compares to the House median of $746,000. Boren also didn’t take the hit in the recession that others reported.  His income steadily increased since 2004, taking only slight dips in 2007 and again in 2009.
Western Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas, a Republican, reports wealth of $650,499 for 2010, an increase of 61% since 2004.  However, most of the increased wealth occurred in 2005 and since then, the farmer and rancher from Cheyenne saw only slight increases in financial holdings. In 2009, his $1 million in wealth took a hit and fell below the House median of $746,000.
With two years in the House, freshman James Lankford, Edmond, saw a 103% increase in his wealth, settling at $217,000 in 2010.  Tulsa Congressman John Sullivan, defeated in this year’s primary election, will leave the U.S. House with only a slight increase in wealth.  In 2004, he reported it totaled only $65,000.  In 2010, Sullivan’s wealth was reported to be $175,000. That’s about a 169% jump in wealth, a figure far below the median figure for U.S. Representatives.  His best year was 2005 when his wealth rose to $558,000. But Sullivan felt the impact of the recession and recovered only slightly in 2009.”

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