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Many Texas congressional leaders got richer during the recession


The following ran in the March 4, 2012, edition of the Houston Chronicle. Political Scientist Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

March 16, 2012

WASHINGTON - Even in a flailing economy, many Texans in Congress have seen their personal net worth swell - and 17 of the state's 34 representatives on Capitol Hill have emerged from the recession with money in the millions.

"It's to be expected that members of Congress would see their holdings recover more quickly than ordinary Americans," says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University. "They arrive in Congress better educated and wealthier than their constituents - and with established careers."

The median change was a 25 percent gain in delegation members' net worth over the latest four-year period - a far better performance than the 11 percent loss in value suffered by financial holdings tracked by Standard and Poor's 500 Index.

Of the U.S. senators and Congress members who represent the greater Houston area, 8 of 11 showed increases in personal wealth.

The exceptions are Republican Sen.Kay Bailey Hutchison, whose net worth dropped by 33 percent since the end of 2006 to an estimated $5.2 million at the end of 2010; U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land, whose net worth dropped 21 percent to $1.4 million; and U.S. Rep. Gene Green, a Houston Democrat who slipped 20 percent from $656,004 to an estimated $522,503.

Four Houston-area House members made the millionaire's cut: Republican Michael McCaul, with an estimated $380 million; Democrat Al Green, with an estimated $4.5 million; Republican Ron Paul, with an estimated $3.6 million; and Olson.

McCaul's holdings make him the second wealthiest member of Congress, in large part due to the financial status of his wife, Linda Mays McCaul, who received money transfers from her father, Clear Channel Communications Chairman Lowry Mays. McCaul's estimated net worth grew from almost $47 million in 2007 to $380 million in 2010....