Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has represented Kentucky in the United States Senate since 1984. Voters in that state have cast the majority of ballots for him seven times in Senate elections, most recently in 2020. He has led the Republican caucus as either minority or majority leader since Jan. 3, 2007, and in 2018, surpassed Bob Dole as the longest-serving leader from the party in the Senate.
McConnell — who has been called “the most conservative leader of either party in the history of the Senate” — has had a front-row seat at some of the biggest events in the nation of the past 35 years, including three impeachment trials, the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as Supreme Court justice and the fight over the Affordable Care Act.
In recent months the longtime public servant has had significant medical issues, including a July 26, 2023, incident in which he froze while making a public address and had to be led off stage. While he recovered enough to continue speaking, his health has called into question whether he will seek an eighth term. In addition, the lapse brought the topic of term limits and age considerations to the forefront of political conversations.
- Birthdate: Feb. 20, 1942
- Net worth: $35 million
- Current rank of all Senate members by net worth: No. 9 of 50
- Primary source of income: Senate salary, family inheritance
- Career highlight: Longest-serving Senate Republican leader in the history of the United States
Lawmakers must file their personal financial disclosure forms and list their assets within a wide range, such as $5 million to $25 million, making it difficult to pinpoint an exact figure. According to a financial disclosure agreement McConnell filed in May 2018, the most recent available, he and his wife, Elaine Chao, have a combined net worth ranging from $13.42 million to $54.56 million. Celebrity Net Worth estimates McConnell’s net worth at $35 million.
The couple has a variety of assets, including bank accounts, trusts, mutual funds, retirement accounts and stocks. McConnell stated that he holds no liabilities worth more than $10,000.
McConnell’s net worth jumped significantly after the death of his wife’s mother in 2007. His 2008 financial disclosure form lists a Vanguard Tax-Exempt Money Market Fund joint account worth between $5 million and $25 million that was a gift from his relative. In fact, most of McConnell’s wealth comes from joint funds and funds held by his spouse. The value of the assets owned solely by McConnell ranges from $1.01 million to $2.17 million.
McConnell’s primary source of income is his Senate salary. As the minority leader, he earns $193,400 per year.
After graduating from the University of Louisville College of Arts and Sciences and the University of Kentucky College of Law, McConnell started his political career as an intern on Capitol Hill for Sen. John Sherman Cooper. His next political gigs were chief legislative assistant to Sen. Marlow Cook and deputy assistant attorney general to President Gerald Ford. He served as judge-executive of Jefferson County, Kentucky, from 1978 through January 1985, when he began his first term as senator. He has gone on to become Kentucky’s longest-serving senator, and over that time he has had success in killing a number of Democratic bills. McConnell is proud of his conservative record, referring to himself as the “grim reaper” for Democratic legislation.
He is married to Elaine Chao, who also has a long history in politics. She served eight years as President George W. Bush’s secretary of labor and nearly another eight as the secretary of transportation under President Donald Trump. Chao was also president of the United Way of America and director of the Peace Corps.
Chao is an immigrant who came to the U.S. in a cargo ship with her parents, The Washington Post reported. Her father went on to found the Foremost Maritime Corporation, which is still a major shipping company and was successful enough to enable the Chao family to make a $40 million donation to the Harvard Business School. Although she has never played a leadership role in the Foremost group, Chao’s family money has enabled her and McConnell to become “millionaires many times over,” according to The Intercept.
Chao reportedly helped McConnell’s political career in more ways than one. Financially, The New York Times reported that the Chao family gave $1.1 million to McConnell’s campaigns and to political action committees tied to him between 1989 and 2018. Chao has also helped him through her role as secretary of the Department of Transportation by designating an intermediary who would help push through transportation projects in McConnell’s native Kentucky. This, in turn, boosted his appeal to his constituents as someone who is able to secure federal resources for his state, Politico reported.
McConnell has not decided whether he will run for an eighth term, telling the Lexington Herald Leader on July 27, 2023, that he has no “prediction on that.”
Back in 2020, the Senate Minority Leader wasted no time in announcing his reelection bid. At that time, McConnell won 57.8% of the vote compared to 38.2% for Democrat Amy McGrath.
If he chooses to run again, he would be 84.
Jami Farkas contributed to the reporting for this article.
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