A Roll Call analysis of Congress members' financial disclosure forms showed their collective net worth was more than $2 billion in 2010 - a 25% leap from 2008. Minimum net worth in the House of Representatives rose to $1.26 billion, with minimum Senate net worth at $784 million.
With a median net worth of $891,506, Congress members are nine times wealthier than the average American household - and some Congressional leaders are exceedingly richer.
About 11% of Congress has net worth of more than $9 million, landing them in the top 1% of America's wealthy.
And these numbers aren't even the whole picture. They don't include members' homes and other non-income-generating property, which could add hundreds of millions of dollars to total net worth.
Congressional leaders' presence in the top 1% is one of the catalysts that angered citizens enough to start the global "Occupy Wall Street" movement. It also has prompted a closer look at how these elected representatives are gaining such riches, especially on an annual salary of $174,000.
According to a CBS News "60 Minutes" segment that aired Nov. 13, congressional "insider trading" might be a key factor in their financial success. Congress members may be using information gained from their "insider" positions to make highly profitable trades in the stock market.
This form of insider trading may be unethical, but it's also legal.
"This is a venture opportunity," Peter Schweizer, a fellow at Stanford University's conservative think tank the Hoover Institution, told "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft. "This is an opportunity to leverage your position in public service and use that position to enrich yourself, your friends, and your family."
Congressional "Insider Trading"Schweizer has extensively reviewed Congress members' financial disclosure records for his book, "Throw Them All Out," released this week. He wanted to know how our elected representatives manage to accumulate so much wealth while in office.
Schweizer found that congressional representatives were trading stocks related to hot topics being discussed and debated in Congress before information had been disclosed to the public.
"We know that during the health care debate people were trading health care stocks," Schweizer said to Kroft. "We know that during the financial crisis of 2008 they were getting out of the market before the rest of America really knew what was going on."