US’ own expense scandal

USexpenseWeeks after the UK’s Parliamentarians have been hit hard by criticisms concerning their expense claims, the WSJ came out with what seems to be the US’ version of the scandal.  In the UK, some of the members of the Parliament have already left their posts, including their speaker. Whether this becomes as big of an issue in the US is yet to be seen.

Some of the most bizarre expense claims (from the Telegraph) have included payments for the removal of wasps’ nest, a duck island, horse manure, the highly controversial moat cleaning, and trouser press. The Daily Telegraph has a whole collection of features on this ongoing scandal including some quotes from the MPs, the saints (who have saved taxpayers’ money), and the political casualties.

(See The Telegraph’s whole section on the issue).

Also let me insert here an op-ed by Chris Caldwell for the FT on the matter called “MPs’ Expenses: A View from the US“.

The claims of the members of the US Congress, although probably not as ridiculous as the MPs, they do have their own share of ridiculous claims, including TVs, cellphone pouches, and fancy cars (Lexus!).

From WSJ:

Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings spent $24,730 in taxpayer money last year to lease a 2008 luxury Lexus hybrid sedan. Ohio Rep. Michael Turner expensed a $1,435 digital camera. Eni Faleomavaega, the House delegate from American Samoa, bought two 46-inch Sony TVs.

The lawmakers do get allowances in order to cover official and representational expenses.  These allowances go for $1.3 million to $1.9 million a year for House members and between $2.9 million to $4.5 million for Senators

If lawmakers don’t seek reimbursement for all of their allowance money for the year, the remainder doesn’t roll over to the next year, but stays with the Treasury. The review showed that the increased year-end spending went not only toward equipment but also to fund year-end “bonuses” to aides.

There’s much more on the article. I’m somehow delighted to see it. Strikes me as hypocrisy on the part of those politicians.

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