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How Did the Richest Members of Congress Make Their Money?

It’s no secret that many members of Congress can claim the title of “millionaire.” In fact, over half of all members of Congress are worth at least $1 million, which is eye-opening when compared to the $174,000 annual salary they are paid.

So, how did the richest members of Congress make their money? For many, generational wealth played a role. Others used savvy investments to build portfolios worth hundreds of millions.

Paul Mitchell

Paul Mitchell, a former Republican representative from Michigan, is the third-wealthiest person to have recently served in Congress. He didn’t run for reelection in 2020 and left office in January 2021. He is now an independent politician.

How, exactly, he achieved his wealth isn’t immediately clear to the public. Some outlets have reported that he served as an executive for various companies throughout his professional career in the private sector before pivoting to politics. Like most wealthy people, Mitchell invests his money heavily, relying on the stock market to grow his finances. He is estimated to be worth $179 million.

Greg Gianforte

Gianforte is the second-wealthiest person to have recently served in Congress. Like Mitchell, he did not seek reelection in 2020 and left office in January 2021. He instead ran for the role of governor in Montana, which he won against Democratic opponent Mike Cooney.

Gianforte is estimated to be worth $189 million and made his money through a career with technology in the 1980s. He worked for companies like Bell and McAfee throughout the 80s and 90s and eventually founded his own company, RightNow Technologies. His investment in his own company helped to make him very wealthy, as he held a 20 percent stake when the company went public in 2004. Oracle purchased RightNow in 2011 for some $1.5 billion, a move that only helped Gianforte’s finances.

Mark Warner

Currently, the wealthiest member of Congress is Mark Warner, a Democratic Senator from Virginia. He was the Governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006 and was elected to the Senate in 2008. As for his personal wealth, Warner didn’t get rich from politics. He invested heavily into venture capital in the 1980s, with a focus on cell phone technology. His firm, Columbia Capital, must have picked some winners because this senator is really, really wealthy.

His investment services were vital to his personal wealth, and he reaped the rewards of savvy investments in the 1980s to become a fantastically rich man. He’s currently estimated to be worth some $214 million, making him the wealthiest member of Congress by far.

Chad North