By Christina Wilkie - 02/17/11 12:00 AM EST
So he’s a little shocked by all the attention the practice has received in recent days.
Last week, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called on the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to investigate House members who sleep in their offices. The watchdog group asked the OCE to assess whether the legislators are violating tax law by failing to report lodging as a taxable fringe benefit.
The father of three might be happy to learn that, yes, it appears CREW has plenty left to probe. Just last week, the group took action against the dietary supplement industry, former Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) and the Department of Justice.
But Chaffetz wants people to know that sleeping on a cot in the corner of the Longworth House Office Building three nights a week benefits more than just his wallet: He’s helping save Mother Earth.
“My carbon footprint is much smaller because I don’t heat and light an entirely separate apartment,” Chaffetz laughed, “so we shouldn’t discount that.” This may be true, but it’s also a little tongue-in-cheek coming from a guy who scored 10 out of a possible 100 on the latest environmental scorecard put out by the League of Conservation Voters.
And don’t expect House Republican leadership to comment on CREW’s letter anytime soon.
According to a GOP insider, “There are so many more serious issues on the table right now than where a few guys sleep a few nights a week.” (ITK resisted the strong urge to make a joke about ex-Rep. Chris Lee, R-N.Y., here.)
Citing press reports, CREW said there are at least 33 members, all male — 26 Republicans and seven Democrats — who sleep where they work.