Members of Congress get taxpayer-funded allowances to cover “official and representational expenses.” House members get a government expense allowance of $1.3 million to $1.9 million a year. Senators get $2.9 million to $4.5 million. Rules prohibit the use of the allowances for campaign, political, personal, and committee expenses. However, “incidental” use is permitted as long as it is “negligible.” Many of the lawmakers use the allowances for items such as staff salaries and bonuses. Some congressional representatives use them for high-end electronics, leasing cars, and personalized calendars.
Federal lawmakers billed us for some interesting items in carrying out their day-to-day duties this past year. For example, Rep. Alcee Hastings spent $24,730 in taxpayer money last year to lease a 2008 luxury Lexus hybrid sedan. Rep. Tim Mahoney’s account included an $11,000 payment on his House-issued credit card to cover airfare for him and an aide incurred in September, with the line “A/F Mahoney/Mitchell.”
Members of the public can request specific receipts, but lawmakers aren’t required to provide them. And unfortunately, their expense records aren’t available electronically. So, here’s a big shout out to the Wall Street Journal for conducting the review. Read the article here.
Hat tip also to St. Pete Times/Adam Smith.