Last week, members of Congress filed new financial disclosure forms. The Hill newspaper reported that Mitch McConnell (and, incidentally, Harry Reid) saw a nearly 30 percent increase in his wealth in 2010. They attribute the windfall to McConnell having “made some smart plays in the stock market with his wife, former Bush Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.”
Because personal finance disclosure forms are frustratingly vague, it’s hard to know exactly how much McConnell scored on Wall Street. The most recent report shows McConnell with “a minimum net worth of $9.8 million,” language that reflects the fact that disclosure forms only require members of Congress to report the various ranges for their individual assets rather than actual dollar amounts. The Hill notes, however, that this minimum net worth figure is up from $7.6 million a year ago.
Maybe that’s not surprising given the stock market of 2010, but I was curious how McConnell did during the crash itself. So I checked out McConnell’s personal finance page from the Center for Responsive Politics to find more data and see if maybe I could find something other than a “minimum.”
Although they have McConnell’s latest disclosure form here, they don’t have the new numbers input just yet in the graph I’ve reposted. Still, the staggering trajectory of McConnell’s wealth throughout the recession speaks for itself. It seems Mitch McConnell, like Goldman Sachs, makes money even when times are bad — and not just measly Bernie Madoff rates of return, but somehow doubling his net worth twice between 2006 and 2009.
To be sure, it’s possible that the imprecise measurement of average net worth, presumably the Center for Responsive Politics’ way of accounting for the full range of values in the reports, has skewed the data in some way. But even if it’s overstated the increase by half, that still wouldn’t explain how the senate Minority Leader was somehow able not only to avoid losses during the recession but end up, incredibly, much much better off. That alone, regardless of the exact amounts, should be cause for some added scrutiny.
Little known fact: members of Congress are exempt from insider trading laws. Could that have something to do with it?