Most Expensive House Office in America is Steve Kagen’s
On last Monday, the House did something for the first time ever.
Thanks to a change in its own transparency laws, the quarterly expense report of the House is finally online. Prior to this change, one would have to get a look at this report one of two ways.
The hard way: Request a copy of the report (typically in three volumes, each 1000+ pages in size) from the House Committee on Administration which acts as a sort of Mayor’s office for the House; if they have a copy lying around, they might give you one.
The easy way: Have a friend who works as a House staffer and ask them if you can page threw it.
Since Politico is what Politico is, it ran a story on this news the only way they knew how; a sensational story about Speaker Pelosi buying $2993 worth of flowers. That’s fine and all, but as much of a waste of taxpayer dollars (as well as odd purchase) that might be, it’s nothing compared to what other members might be using on such things as franking privileges and printing of materials. That’s the treasure trove of information this new disclosure now gives Americans.
For the first time ever, you can now find out how much your individual Congressman is spending in his Congressional office without making a special trip to Washington. So, with that weapons cache in tow, bloggers and journalists have been pouring over the report available either at the Office of the House’s Chief Administrative Officer or the Sunlight Foundation. Some of them — like this one in New Mexico – have begun compiling lists of the biggest Congressional spenders for the third quarter of 2009.
At the top: Appleton’s own Steve Kagen.
According to the report, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of Santa Fe spent more than $337,000 on his office between June and September and $808,000 in the first nine months of the year. That seems like a lot, but it’s less than New Mexico’s other two congressmen. Martin Heinrich of Albuquerque spent more than $343,000 for the quarter and $908,000 for January through September, while Harry Teague of Hobbs spent more than $352,000 the last quarter and more than $899,000 as of the end of September.The most expensive offices in Congress are those of Reps. Steve Kagen, D-Wisc., who spent $452,000 in the last quarter, Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who spent $449,000, and Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., who spent $445,000.
In actuality, Kagen’s office spent $452,596. Congressional offices get a total of $1.5 million to spend for the entire fiscal year.
When you add up the spending of the other seven Wisconsin Congressional representatives, here are their 2009 Quarter 3 numbers from a spreadsheet provided by the Sunlight Foundation (numbers rounded to nearest dollar): Paul Ryan — $382,733; Tammy Baldwin — $311,637; Ron Kind — $294,527; Gwen Moore — $268,778; Jim Sensenbrenner — $280,077; Tom Petri — $324,509; and Dave Obey — $248,945.
Year to date totals for the Wisconsin delegation are: Ryan — $951,904; Baldwin — $922,888; Kind — $931,578; Moore — $817,093; Sensenbrenner — $898,976; Petri — $935,137; Obey — $686,796; Kagen — $1,183,739.
Quarter 4 is traditionally a time when Congressional offices will use up their remaining budgets with further expenditures. New office equipment (computers, TV sets, office furniture) often will be the major purchases. Any remaining money after that is traditionally given back to the federal budget.
So what is Kagen spending so much of your tax dollars on; and what will he be able to spend the remaining $316,261 on?
Well, as is typical, the biggest expense is staff salary. For Kagen that was $234,350; which puts his office around the average in Congress. Staff salaries are pretty universal in Congress with only the years of service being the only determining factor in any differences. In Kagen’s office, he spent an amazing $59,934 in franked mailings, and $79,381 in printing and reproduction costs (most of them related to making the franked mailings). A detailed look at the timing of these mailings show the vast majority of them were done right before the August Recess.
(Health Care Bill sales pitches perhaps? Yeah, those went well if memory serves for the Kagen Office.)
Could someone in the greater Green Bay-Appleton media remind Kagen about his office’s spending habits the next time he tries to sound like “Mr. Tight-wad with the Government Purse Strings” on the campaign trail next year? The man’s about as “Fiscally Conservative” a politician as a kid in a candy store.
So far — and I’ve been working on this post for the better part of a week — the only 8th District Republican to even notice this news is Roofing Company Owner Reid Ribble, who issued a press release. My guess is the Roth team is still being assembled, and missed this. The other five running better have more solid excuses for not jumping on prime ammo like this that Kagen gives them.