The members of Congress really do live in an alternate reality. In this reality, they can disclose anything they would like and we, the people, will believe it. Take, for instance, the list Roll Call released today (thanks, Marcus) showing the 50 richest members of Congress. It is, for lack of any better word in the English language, complete and utter bullshit. Even Roll Call, with its opening lines, admits its a load of crap:
Everything that you are about to read might be wrong.
Roll Call’s annual attempt to rank the riches of Members of Congress is hampered by one fundamental flaw: It is based on the lawmakers’ financial disclosure forms, which are extraordinarily unreliable sources of information.
Picked completely at random, <cough, cough> let’s take an example:
13. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
McCain’s true value is impossible to estimate because most of the major assets are listed in the name of his wife or children, thereby requiring far less detailed disclosure. Other news outlets have suggested that Cindy McCain’s net worth may exceed $100 million, but there is no documentation to prove that figure.
McCain’s disclosure form lists 12 items with values of “over $1 million” that are owned by his wife and children. In 2007, the family liquidated a trust set up by Cindy McCain’s late mother that had a reported value in 2006 of more than $2.5 million. The proceeds were then distributed to three other trusts, which show a minimum value of $1.4 million. Cindy McCain also liquidated a blind trust in 2007, selling millions of dollars worth of stock, and the reported value of the stock she owns through Hensley & Co. — her family’s beer distributorship — dropped more than $4 million in value last year.
The only assets McCain claims as his own are a checking account with a balance of $15,000 to $50,000, a money market fund worth less than $15,000 and several book deals.
You have got to be shitting me. Seriously.
To be fair, John Kerry, who tops the list at $230.98 million, did not fully disclose the holdings of his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry. But he at least disclosed enough to put him at the top of the list.
All of this reminds me of that scene in the Matrix: