Are you 25% richer today than you were two years ago? Congress is.


New analysis from Roll Call reveals that during the last two years since the financial crisis, the average net worth of each individual in Congress has increased by an average of 25%.

The staggering value for this very small and elite group is now $2 billion in personal worth.

Catherine Crier, author of “Patriot Acts:  What Americans Must Do to Save the Republic” and the youngest state judge in Texas state history, talks about the growing disconnect between Congress and regular Americans, and the corrupting influence of money in the judicial system.

DR: The book is entitled “Patriot Acts.” You say “what Americans must do to save the republic.” So this is an empowering view of the issues. I’m interested in how you’re seeking to direct my energy — and everybody else’s energy — as we confront these issues.

CC: Well, you have taken the biggest step of all, and that is, talking to your viewers about the importance of a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics, corporate money out of politics.  Right now, both Democrats and Republicans are serving the big corporate givers. They’re not serving the constituents that sent them to Congress. If we don’t have a representative government, it’s over, right there. Done deal. So we’ve got to start there.

DR: At the beginning of the show, we spoke with Landon Rowland, the former Chairman at Janus Capital.  He’s done a tremendous amount of work of exposing money in the judicial system, in selecting the state judges, in selecting the county judges, in selecting the people that actually administer the rule of law.  How worried should we all be about that?

CC: You should be very, very worried, because we can go back in history and look at the political relationships that inspired inspired a lot of judicial decisions that affect us today.  1886, the Santa Clara Railroad case was the case that gave corporations personhood. There was a whole era in there, several decades, where judges were a little bit too influenced by politics, and you could see the decision making that resulted.What we don’t seem to understand is that those things are on the books, those things then drive our politics for decades, if not centuries, and we’re stuck.  There’s a direct line between sort of buying and influencing the judiciary and the problems we’re having today.

DR:  I want to talk about the actual net worth of our Congress. The House net worth in 2008, $1 billion, which is right at the peak of the financial crisis. That’s the personal net worth of the financial and real estate holdings of the individuals who serve in the House of Representatives, correct?

CC:  Correct.

DR:   So their personal financial responsibilities, et cetera, $1 billion. Two years later, massive unemployment, massive housing decline, massive extraction in the banking industry — $1.26 billion. That’s pretty good.

Senate net worth, $651 million. There’s only 100 of them, so that’s still good money. 2010, two years later, up to $784 million. I actually think that the Senators’ return is a little better.

CC: I saw a story several months ago, and didn’t see a follow-up on this, and that was beginning to look at just the stocks, the investments, the IPO’s, the insider trading that was going on on Capitol Hill. Now, where is the rest of that investigative piece? Beyond the numbers, we need to know how they got access, how they knew when to trade, and how they got the increase in their accounts. Because there’s a story there, and we probably can all guess the ending.

DR:  I remember, in covering both the health care health reform process, and I believe there was a young executive professional working for — in Senator Max Baucus’ office from Wellpoint, which was one of the monopoly health insurance companies, who was  administering a lot of drafting and framing of the legislation.  Meanwhile, in Senator Chris Dodd’s office during financial regulation, it was once again a former JP Morgan executive who was working with Senator Dodd in framing the credit default swap market regulation, which as Jon Corzine and others are showing us, doesn’t seem to be as reliable as everybody might want it to be. How do we get into a situation where this is happening and where are we in American history that we’re sort of seeing this, all this obviously corruption, which we’ve seen it before.

CC:  It’s the banana republic, right?  Do you remember when Bill Clinton came into office, the first week he was in office, he said, i am going to ban the revolving door for the upper level officials, at least for the four-year term.  What’d he do the week before he left office? Repealed the ban.

DR: Convenient.

CC: All the buddies. So it’s not — it’s Republicans, it’s Democrats. It’s incestuous within the system.

For more on the unholy alliance corrupting our courts and the campaign to buy off judges, check out Bought Justice, Dylan’s recent blog post on the issue.

Megan Robertson is a digital producer for