9 years through the revolving door: How the GOP's top Senate recruit in Michigan got rich after leaving Congress

Former Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan speaks at an event in North Charleston, South Carolina on March 18, 2023.
Former Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan speaks at an event in North Charleston, South Carolina on March 18, 2023.AP Photo/Meg Kinnard
  • Former Rep. Mike Rogers is running for Senate in Michigan after 9 years in the private sector.

  • Financial docs show that has multiplied his wealth since he left Congress in 2015.

  • He passed through the "revolving door," advising companies on issues he dealt with in Congress.

When former Rep. Mike Rogers decided to retire from Congress in 2014, money seemed to have been at least a little bit on his mind.

The Michigan Republican’s aides told the New York Times at the time that Rogers would take up a new gig as a talk radio host in part to “earn considerable amounts of money” and to take on “something more lucrative” after years of public service.

After all, being a member of Congress just doesn’t pay as well as the private sector: Lawmakers’ salaries have been capped at $174,000 a year since 2009.

Nine years later, after briefly flirting with a presidential bid, Rogers is running for Senate in Michigan with the support of top Republicans. Over the last decade, according to property records and federal financial disclosure documents filed in 2015 and 2023, he made good on his quest to get rich.

That includes more than $32,000 from paid speeches in 2022, nearly $2 million in income from board positions at tech companies and cybersecurity firms in the last two years, and assets totaling as high as $17.5 million.

And Rogers added one more key asset to his portfolio in July, just three months before launching his Senate bid: a modest $295,000 house in exurban Detroit. Before that, he was living over 1,000 miles away in sunny Cape Coral, Florida, where he purchased a more than $1.5 million home in 2022.

It’s a stark example of how the so-called “revolving door” — where lawmakers, staffers, and other officials capitalize on their experience as they move between the public and private sectors — can fuel the explosion of immense wealth after years in public service.

"Mike Rogers has always believed that Michiganders deserve full and complete transparency from their elected leaders, which is why he has consistently complied with Senate Ethics and FEC financial disclosure requirements,” said Chris Gustafson, a spokesperson for Rogers’s campaign.

Middling wealth — for a member of Congress

Rogers first came to Congress in 2001, gradually rising through the ranks to become the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee from 2011 to 2015.

He became known for authoring major legislation dealing with cybersecurity and intelligence matters, including the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a bill designed to enable the government to obtain personal information from private companies for intelligence and security purposes. Critics of the legislation argued at the time that it would have created a “cybersecurity loophole” to existing privacy laws.

Rogers was by no means a destitute congressman, but his wealth was middling for a place where most of his colleagues are millionaires.

As he prepared to exit Congress, he sold his home in Howell, Michigan for $137,500 in October 2014, property records show, leaving him without a Michigan residence.

Rogers holding a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on February 10, 2022.
Rogers holding a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on February 10, 2022.Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images

He also had two homes near Washington, including a nearly $1.1 million McLean home that he purchased in 2009 and a roughly $460,000 home on the Chesapeake bay in Grasonville, Maryland in 2014, which he sold early last year. But he also had significant mortgages on those homes, according to his 2015 disclosure, totaling between $750,000 and $1.5 million.

Couple that with his disclosed investments at the time, and Rogers’ net worth was somewhere between $800,000 and $1.7 million.

But as his 2023 disclosure indicates, things have changed significantly since then.

‘Having a great life outside of politics’

As he departed Congress, Rogers quickly signed a contract for an undisclosed amount with Cumulus Radio, going on to host a thrice-weekly radio show after a career in Congress that included significant TV appearances.

He also joined the boards of various companies and groups that operate in the cybersecurity space, including IronNet Cybersecurity in 2015, the MITRE Corporation in 2016, IAP Worldwide Services in 2018, and the quantum computing firm D-Wave in 2021 — along with several other positions.

“We were having a great life outside of politics,” Rogers told a local news outlet in December, saying he got involved in cybersecurity firms after his time in Congress because he realized “we were going to need the private sector to help push back on both international criminal gangs” as well as Russia and China.

And it paid off. In December, Rogers disclosed payments totaling roughly $1,975,000 since January 2022, including $724,887 from IronNet, which recently went bankrupt; $191,000 from MITRE; nearly $160,00 from D-Wave; and over $20,000 from Telefonica Ingenieria, a Spanish telecommunications company.

Rogers also received $460,000 from Nokia in the last two years, despite little public information existing about his affiliation with the Finnish tech company.

His campaign did not say what the Nokia payment was for, and representatives for the company did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

And despite no longer hosting his radio show, Rogers continues to make big bucks from being a public figure. He disclosed earning $32,000 from the Washington Speakers Bureau, as well as $17,540 for a speech to Carnival Cruise Line.

In sum, Rogers appears to have multiplied his net worth, disclosing between $5.5 and $14.5 million in various other investments, mostly mutual funds, along with over $3 million in real estate, including the new Michigan home, his Cape Coral residence, and the home in McLean.

None of what Rogers has done in his years since Congress appears to be illegal — in fact, it’s the path that many former lawmakers take, with private companies eager to hire someone with subject-matter expertise, a high profile, and knowledge and connections in the halls of power.

What makes Rogers’ case interesting is the fact that he’s required to lay it all out in the open via financial disclosures bookending his time in the private sector. All Senate and House members and candidates are required to do so, and separately, other candidates in the race are facing ethics complaints for missing or incomplete disclosures.

But it’s relatively uncommon for politicians to run for office again once they’ve become ensconced in the ritzy life that awaits them after their service, and when they do, it’s often controversial.

Just ask Hillary Clinton about the paid speeches she gave between her time as Secretary of State and her 2016 presidential bid.

Read the original article on Business Insider