The Real House Spending Numbers

Our new report on House office spending shows just how different individual Members of Congress really are. Those of you who want to see the whole report can view it here.

Some spend taxpayer dollars like they were their own money, though it appears there are too few who have this philosophy. Others spend their office budgets, well, like someone else is paying.

If all House Members spent like Reps. Virgil Goode (R-Va.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.), Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.), James Walsh (R-N.Y.) or Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), the House would have trimmed over $100 million each year from its expenses.

Seventy-four Members spent nearly every penny they could, under the law.

You can see a ratio here, and it explains the mentality in Washington.

When taxpayers file their tax returns, they examine the information they report and swear under penalties of perjury that the figures are correct.

Yet when the House prints reports showing how much is spent, there is not even any embarrassment that the figures are obviously incorrect. In the first half of 2006 alone, every lawmaker reported at least one adjustment to their 2005 office expense data, adding up to $27.4 million for the whole House.

Thirty-six House Members’ records for postage contained errors, most of them for reporting more expenditures on postage for mass mailings than for all postage combined. This of course is mathematically impossible.

Supposedly the House has an audit each year. If Sarbanes-Oxley rules applied to this audit, well, let’s just say I doubt anyone would want to certify it.

Speaker Pelosi, you promised to clean up the House. Let’s see if you can clean up House disclosure reports so they are more reliable and timely.