3 Austinites are among the wealthiest members of Congress

March 08, 2018
  • By Maria Recio
  • American-Statesman special correspondent

The congressional money list is in and Texas can once again claim some high rollers, or at least high earners, with the wealthiest members of Congress from the Lone Star State topped by three Austin members: Michael McCaul, Roger Williams and Lloyd Doggett.

McCaul, a Republican and a perennial on the “rich list,” has a net worth of $113 million, making him the fifth-wealthiest lawmaker of the 530 members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate (there are a few vacancies) and the richest among Texas lawmakers. Williams, also a Republican, ranks 22nd overall and second among the Texas lawmakers with a net worth of $27.7 million and Doggett, a Democrat, is 36th overall and the third-wealthiest Texas member of Congress with an estimated net worth of $13.1 million.

The recently released wealth list from Roll Call, a news outlet that covers Capitol Hill, annually compiles and ranks the financial reports of the members, which only require lawmakers to give broad ranges of value. In addition, lawmakers do not have to include their principal residences. As a result, the figures are rough estimates of a member’s net worth.

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Texas’ two U.S. senators are far down the list, with Ted Cruz clocking in at 332nd with a net worth of $200,000 and John Cornyn at 390th with a wealth value estimated at zero, with $500,000 in assets and $500,000 in liabilities.

McCaul’s wealth, derived from his wife’s family, is, however, well known since Linda McCaul is an heiress to Clear Channel Communications founder Lowry Mays. “Now the largest owner of radio stations in the country, it has become iHeartCommunications since the Mays family sold much of its stake in a leveraged buyout a decade ago,” said the Roll Call report. McCaul reported $92.9 million in investments, $100,000 in real estate and $20 million in trusts.

Williams, a former Texas secretary of state, made his fortune from a Weatherford car dealership inherited from his father. His vast auto mall that sells Jeeps, Chryslers and Dodges as well as other lots and related businesses are worth about $25 million. He also has real estate holdings.

Doggett’s wealth struck Roll Call as unusual given that he’s been a public servant most of his career, serving in the Legislature and on the Texas Supreme Court before being elected to Congress in 1994. “He appears to have made profitable investments in the state’s oil and gas industry that grew during his time on the state Supreme Court. His biggest investments are in Vanguard funds. He also owns at least $500,000 of stock in Austin-based Whole Foods and three rental properties near the state capital.”

Other Central Texas lawmakers were ranked well below McCaul, Williams and Doggett:

• U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, ranked 96th with $3 million net worth.

• U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, ranked 105th with a net worth of $2.8 million.

• U.S. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, ranked 121st with a net worth of $2.4 million.

• U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, ranked 192nd with a net worth of $1.2 million.