The Campaign Spot

Culture of Corruption, Part Twenty

Your tax dollars at work. Notice a recurring letter D in this list:

Every year, each member of the House receives $1.3 million to $1.9 million and each senator gets $2.9 million to $4.5 million to cover travel expenses, office equipment, staff salaries and more.

The Journal’s review didn’t uncover anything eye-poppingly egregious, perhaps because lawmakers are still weaning themselves from the generosity of defense contractors, lobbyists and the like and simply haven’t felt the need to dun taxpayers for extras —- yet.

The Journal didn’t report finding any illegal expenses, but the paper didn’t unearth many examples of thrift, either. Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), for instance, spent almost $25,000 last year to lease a luxury Lexus sedan, and Rep. Rodney Alexander (D-La.) paid $20,000 to lease a Toyota Highlander SUV. (At least they were hybrids.) Other lawmakers in both parties also opted for ritzy rides.

There were some squirrelly items in the mix, too. Eni Faleomavaega, a Democrat who serves as American Samoa’s delegate in the House, spent $3,000 for two 46-inch TVs. Presumably, he wanted screens big enough to be seen from American Samoa.

Former Rep. William “The Freezer” Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who’s still awaiting trial on bribery charges, scored a $2,793 Panasonic Toughbook, a supersturdy laptop, before he lost his re-election bid last year.

But my personal favorite was a piddling but pointless $22 bill submitted by Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) for a Liz Claiborne “cellphone pouch.” A spokeswoman explained that it was “nothing fancy.”

Don’t worry, folks! It’s all legal! Nothing to see here!


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