Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ethics Group Files Complaint Against Congressmen's Frat House Digs

This has to rank as one of the wackiest ethics complaints of all time filed against members of Congress. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed a complaint against 33 members of the House of Representatives, including Indiana's Todd Rokita and Todd Young, because they are using their Capitol Hill offices to bunk at nights rather than renting or buying a place to live while working in Washington.

“House office buildings are not dorms or frat houses,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “If members didn’t want to find housing in Washington, they shouldn’t have run for Congress in the first place.”

"Living in a House office violates the prohibition on using taxpayer resources for anything other than the performance of official duties," states a CREW release. "The Members’ Handbook states that the Member Representational Allowance may not be used for personal expenses.

"Further, under the Internal Revenue Code, members who sleep in their offices are receiving a taxable benefit. The IRS treats lodging as a taxable fringe benefit unless it is offered on the employer's business premises, is for the employer's convenience, and is required as a condition of employment. As living in a House office clearly is not a condition of serving in Congress, members must pay taxes for imputed income based on the fair market value of their lodging.

"Notably, members of Congress and congressional staff already have imputed taxable income based on the fair market value of their reserved parking spaces. If members must pay taxes to lodge their cars, surely they must pay taxes for their own lodging."
Hey, these guys aren't trying to take advantage of taxpayers. They just like hanging out together at the House gym and showering and dressing together. Among the list of congressmen using their offices as frat house digs include U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), a former cast member of the MTV's Real World Boston, who is married to Rachel Campos, an alum of Real World San Francisco, and U.S. Rep. Ben Quayle (R-AZ) of fame and son of former Vice President Dan Quayle.

Here's the complete list of congressmen bunking in their offices. I noticed it includes no female House members.

Dan Boren (D-Okla.), John Carney (D-Del.), Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.), Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Joe Heck (R-Nev.), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.), Ben Quayle (R-Ariz.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), John Sullivan (R-Okla.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.).
As an interesting side note, one of the first members known to sleep in his Capitol Hill office was former U.S. Rep. James Traficant, Jr. (D-OH), who was expelled from the House for taking bribes.


Paul K. Ogden said...

All the stuff going on in DC and this is what they're worried about?

Jon said...

How is this any different than Indiana? Instead of worrying about jobs or the state budget we are pushing bills about same sex marriage and immigration.

Diana Vice said...

Wow, this will surely expose them for the partisan hacks that they really are.

M Theory said...

They are staying there to save money, right?

I'd rather they do that than use their positions to enrich themselves like most of Congress seems to do.

varangianguard said...

HFFT, would your employer allow you to stay in the office insteqd of maintaining a domicile?

And, who over ther is enforcing codes? Pretty sure those offices aren't meant to be used as living spaces.

I think it is rather pathetic, considering just how much money they make. They could at least live in a boarding house.

Gary R. Welsh said...

This situation is the extreme opposite of the congressmen who buy homes and move their families to D.C. like Evan Bayh, Dick Lugar and Dan Coats. When they become residents of Washington, they lose touch with the people they are suppose to represent. CREW, interestingly, found nothing wrong with Rahm Emanuel living in another congresswoman's house rent-free who happened to be married to a big time D.C. lobbyist, or at least it didn't file a complaint against him. Some members of Congress live with one of their staffers while they're working in Washington, sometimes contributing rent and sometimes not. Congressmen, unlike other taxpayers, have an incentive to maintain a second home in Washington because they are afforded a special tax break to deduct the expense. You'll also find some members of Congress who make their staff drive them everywhere in the staffer's car at the staffer's expense as part of their job.

artfuggins said...

I think sleeping in your office is tacky. With the money they are making and most of them are already millionaires, I would think that 2 or 3 of them could share an apartment.

interestedparty said...

How big are these offices? Is there room for a bed or are they sleeping on sofas or in sleeping bags? I'm trying to picture it and having a hard time doing so. I think there would be serious burn-out after a while. Then everyone will get cranky and crabby and morale and the quality of the work will suffer.

Gary R. Welsh said...

They're private office areas are usually large enough to have a sitting area with a sofa and chairs. I suppose you could have a sleeper sofa.

Paul K. Ogden said...


HFFT is not the boss. The congressmen are the boss. Therein lies the difference.