16 of 2015’s Richest Politicians
One of the great things about the American political system is that money plays no role in the process. The people who are elected to represent the public at large are chosen based only on qualifications, not on their personal financial success in business, or their family’s longstanding wealth. These people are the best of the best, and they go to work each day with just one goal in mind – to make the United States of America the very best country in the world.
(That’s how it works, right?)
Okay – so maybe not. Money and politics have forever been closely linked, not just in the United States, but all around the world. Wealth has everything to do with the ability to get elected for public office in the U.S., and some of the top politicians are also some of the wealthiest people in the country. While most would argue that democracy is the most successful political system in human history, it is not perfect, and the ability for wealthy people to “buy” their way into power is one of the glaring weaknesses of the system.
With the understanding that financial success plays a role in creating a political career, let’s take a look at 16 of the wealthiest politicians in the U.S. today.
John Kerry – Secretary of State
A former Presidential candidate, Kerry currently serves the country as the 68th Secretary of State. Prior to taking the role of Secretary of State, Kerry was considered to be the wealthiest U.S. Senator while representing the state of Massachusetts.
So where does Kerry’s considerable wealth come from? Ketchup, mostly. Kerry’s second wife, Teresa Heinz, is the widow of Henry John Heinz III, heir to the H.J. Heinz Company. While Kerry deserves the credit for creating his own career in politics, his wealth comes thanks to a variety of delicious condiments. At least we know that any barbeque held on the lawn outside the Capitol Building is sure to be well-stocked with ketchup, mustard, relish, and more.
Rick Scott – Governor of Florida
Healthcare is always a hot topic in political circles. It’s a real challenge to provide affordable healthcare to everyone who needs it throughout a large country like the United States. Most people believe healthcare is something all people should have access to, but it’s difficult to determine who should pay for that care.
Worth a reported $147 million, Rick Scott has profited directly from the healthcare system. He co-founded Columbia Hospital Corporation in 1987, which would later merge to form Columbia/HCA, the largest private health care company in the country.
Affordable health care is a lofty goal under any circumstances, but it seems unlikely that having politicians who have so greatly profited from healthcare will lead to lower costs any time soon.
Jared Polis – Congressman from Colorado
While at Princeton, Polis co-founded a company called American Information Systems, which was an internet access provider. He went on to found another web-based business, which was sold for more than $400 million. Apparently founding startups was a great platform upon which to launch a political career, because Polis is among the youngest members of congress, while also being among the wealthiest – he has an estimated wealth of around $200 million.
Although it is too early in Polis’ political career to make any overall judgments as to his motivations or accomplishments, it seems unlikely that he would have been able to be elected in the first place without the private business success that led to his impressive wealth.