WASHINGTON — Just call them the millionaires club.
Eleven of Georgia's 14 congressional members are millionaires and several are multimillionaires.
Topping the list of well-heeled lawmakers is U.S. Rep. John Linder, a Republican from Duluth, who has a net worth of $23.5 million, according to mid-range estimates from the annual personal financial disclosure reports legislators filed last month.
The eight-term congressman said he made less than $500,000 in royalties on "The Fair Tax," a book on replacing the federal income tax with a national sales tax that Linder co-authored with radio talk show host Neal Boortz.
"We've never taxed wealth in America, we've taxed wages," Linder said. "I've paid taxes on all the money I've made."
He said he used that wealth to help build and sell six businesses over the past four decades. His ventures included Grayling Industries, an asbestos removal and adhesives manufacturer based in Alpharetta, a resort in Minnesota, a sales promotion business, a dental practice and other companies.
Linder said his personal finances aren't what should matter most to voters.
"They should know how I vote."
Knowing the personal finances of elected officials is an important aspect of maintaining open government, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research group based in Washington that tracks money in politics.
"The primary reason for these reports is so that the public has access to information about the financial stakes that elected officials have in matters that come before them," Krumholz said. "That oversight acts as a deterrent in potential conflicts of interest."
However, the reports don't measure a congressman's full wealth, she said. Other information, such as the value of homes that didn't earn any income, might not be reflected.
Members of Congress also are allowed to use a fairly wide range when providing information on income, assets and liabilities. A mid-range between the highest and lowest figures reported was used to calculate the members' net worth for this article.
"There are gaps in what is required," Krumholz said. "It does give us a sense of the overall wealth and we can see that by and large they are more wealthy than most Americans."
Members of Congress are paid a $165,200 salary. Many are worth much more thanks to a combination of property, spousal income and investments.
Take U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., for example.
The former real estate salesman is worth $12.5 million. By contrast, Senate colleague Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., listed his worth at about $282,500.
U.S. Rep. Thomas Price, R-Ga., is worth $11.4 million. Price, a former surgeon, owns a vacant lot valued at about $1 million on St. Simons Island. Though his $5.7 million net worth more than qualifies U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Ga., as a member of the millionaire's club, in the previous year's filing he listed one of the delegation's highest potential debts, a figure that fell somewhere between $1.5 million to $6 million.
Deal shares that dubious honor with U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., a former builder who is worth $3.5 million but whose liabilities ranged from $1.7 million to $6.5 million.
Former OB/GYN U.S. Rep. John Gingrey, R-Ga., is worth $4.6 million and U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Ga., a former lawyer, professor and mayor of Macon, is worth $3.9 million.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., is worth $3.3 million, U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., $3.1 million and U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., is worth $3 million.
Though U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., ranks at the lower end of the Georgia congressional millionaires club, he's certainly no pauper. Bishop is worth $1.5 million.
Meanwhile, with a net worth of about $72,000, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., may not belong to the millionaires club, but he's the delegation's most popular speaker. Last year, about 30 organizations such as Rutgers University and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People paid him to speak at events.
Then there's U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., who listed his worth at $48,000 and showed no investments.