Few GOP freshman House members putting down roots inside the Beltway

Only a handful of the House Republicans who were elected to Congress in the anti-incumbent elections of 2010 have purchased homes in Washington, records show.

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The Hill reviewed the financial disclosure forms for all 95 members of the House freshman class — 87 of which are Republicans — and found just four GOP members with mortgages on properties inside the Beltway.

The analysis indicates that the GOP freshmen have not put down roots inside the Beltway after promising not to become the “creatures of Washington” that they ran against in 2010. None of the nine freshman Democrats reported having a mortgage in the area.

Freshman Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.) said the GOP’s class of 2010 is “committed to keeping one foot back in their district[s].”

“I think that that is a lot of what you're seeing,” said Griffin, who lives in his office when the House is in session. “There are people who are downright frank that this is something that they want to do for a little while — with vigor — and then move on to something else.”

Many of the freshmen have chosen to live out of their offices to keep the insurgent spirit alive. As of January 2011, 19 of the 87 GOP freshmen reported that they were sleeping in their workspace rather than rent or buy housing in Washington, according to CBS News. Two Democratic freshmen have taken the same route.

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), another member who calls his office home when the House is in session, said he got the idea from his predecessor, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.).

“He indicated that it worked very well for him,” Walberg said. “And I went with my idea that my home isn’t here in Washington.”

“It’s not an attack on life in Washington, as it were,” he said. “I’m extremely proud to be a part of the United States Congress, this is the finest government system in the world — with all its warts.”

Several lawmakers told The Hill that the number of members living out of their offices has increased this Congress, but declined to name names, as some higher-profile members would prefer to keep it a secret.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), a freshman known for putting together a makeshift kitchenette near his office, said “a lot of people have become very practical” about their living situation.

“I don’t like being comfortable [here],” he added. “I think that’s a very common reason for people.”

Lawmakers were required to list personal mortgages on their financial disclosure forms for the first time this year under language in the STOCK Act. Several freshman members did not respond to requests for clarification on the location of their mortgages, as providing an address is not a requirement of the law. They were not required to disclose information about rentals.

The Hill’s review of the filings for 2011 found four GOP freshmen with mortgages in the D.C. region: Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), Scott Rigell (R-Va.), Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.) and Rob Woodall (R-Ga.).

Rigell’s property is located in the District, while Stutzman and Bucshon have real estate in nearby Alexandria, Va.

Woodall purchased the residence in Alexandria in January 2010 when he was serving as chief of staff for his predecessor, Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.). He purchased the 380-square foot efficiency condo before Linder announced his retirement, according to Derick Corbett, his chief of staff, who emphasized that Woodall has always kept his primary residence in Georgia.

A spokesman for Bucshon emphasized that the congressman still commutes home to Indiana.

Rigell declined to comment. Stutzman’s office did not respond to requests for comment from The Hill.

Freshman Republicans are facing a big test in November, when voters will decide which of them deserve be send back to Washington for a second term.

Griffin said the House GOP has kept its promises and predicted the group will be back in force during the 113th Congress.

"I'm really proud of what we've been able to do, in the context of not controlling the Senate or the White House," Griffin said. “We're well positioned to keep the House [in November] and possibly gain some seats."