How wealthy are members of the General Assembly? A new analysis of financial disclosures conducted by the Virginia Public Access Project shows many have millions in assets.
Republican Senator Bill DeSteph of Virginia Beach comes out on top with at least $6.8 million worth of assets.
Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says members of the General Assembly are not ordinary people. “It’s not a legislature that looks like Virginia in part because it’s not designed to be a legislature that looks like Virginia. You put the income of your lawmakers up against the income and assets of ordinary Virginians and you see a huge difference,” Farnsworth notes.
Many of the lawmakers own stock in companies that are involved in legislation. Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, for example, owns stock in Dominion, Verizon and TowneBank, where he also serves on the board of directors.
Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says that’s all perfectly legal. “That gets back to some of the scandals of the last decade where we wrung our hands and wondered if we should tighten these ethics laws and ultimately we didn’t in this context.”
Not all lawmakers are at the top of the economic scale, though. Twenty-eight of them list no securities on their financial disclosure forms.