Rep. Matheson, big spender; Rep. Goode, not so much

Rep. Jim MathesonJames (Jim) David MathesonTrump EPA eases standards for coal ash disposal Utah redistricting reform measure likely to qualify for ballot Trump's budget targets affordable, reliable power MORE (D-Utah) is Congress’s biggest spender while Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Va.) is the thriftiest, according to a report on congressional office expenses released yesterday by the National Taxpayers Union (NTU).

The report analyzes how lawmakers spent their 2005 Members’ Representational Account (MRA), the average $1.2 million allotted to each lawmaker to cover the salaries of 18 full-time aides, travel, mass mailings, leased cars, bottled water, coffee and everything else needed to run a modern office.


A lawmaker’s overall budget varies based on the distance between his district and Washington, D.C., and the rate at which the General Services Administration (GSA) charges for leasing office space.

The Rand McNally Standard Highway Mileage Guide is used to determine distances from Washington.

For the first time, the lawmakers’ total expenditures surged past the half-billion mark: Lawmakers spent $525 million in 2005, a 20 percent increase over 2001 numbers.

Matheson spent $1,311,878 in 2005, but it is unclear why he nearly exhausted his MRA — in 2004, Matheson ranked 134th on the list. He spent most of his allotment on salaries ($953,000), and $106,000 on franked mail. The remaining expenditures showed nothing extraordinary.

“Congressman Matheson is living within the budget allotment that he received. His district is large and diverse and he wants to communicate and serve all of his constituents efficiently and effectively,” Matheson’s spokeswoman, Alyson Heyrend, said.

The top 10 spenders are all Democrats. Reps. Corrine BrownCorrine BrownFormer Florida rep sentenced to five years in prison for fraud, tax evasion Genuine veteran charities face a challenge beating the fakes Former Florida rep found guilty of tax evasion, fraud MORE (Fla.), Allen Boyd (Fla.), Brad Miller (N.C.), Diane Watson (Calif.), John Murtha (Pa.), Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), Alcee Hastings (Fla.), Barney Frank (Mass.) and Brad Sherman (Calif.) trail Matheson.

Like any list, this one can be misleading. Sherman, for example, spent more money than Matheson, but he had more left over, too. Sherman was allotted $1,352,391 and had $1,743 remaining.

Goode, however, spent just $699,000 of the more than $1.12 million he was allocated. He directed the bulk of that spending, $593,000, to paying his staffers’ salaries.

After Goode, the smallest spenders were Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenThe 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Top House GOP appropriations staffer moves to lobbying shop Individuals with significant disabilities need hope and action MORE (R-N.J.), Ed PastorEdward (Ed) Lopez PastorCross outside North Carolina historic black church defaced with KKK threat GOP lawmaker blasts Trump for quoting pastor warning of civil war over impeachment North Carolina's special House election heads to nail-biter finish MORE (D-Ariz.), James Walsh (R-N.Y.), Joel Hefley (R-Colo.), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeVulnerable senators hold the key to Trump's fate Trump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong How to survive an impeachment MORE (R-Ariz.), William Jenkins (R-Tenn.), George Radanovich (R-Calif.), and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.).
Hefley and Jenkins are no longer in Congress. Hunter, at the time, was chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

NTU also reported that Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-N.Y.) spent more on postage than did any of his colleagues. He spent $164,897 on mass mailings and $174,587 on postage.  

Kuhl’s spokesman did not return a request for comment.

Aside from Kuhl, Reps. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), Henry Brown Jr. (R-S.C.), Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), David Obey (D-Wis.), Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), Michael FitzpatrickMichael (Mike) G. FitzpatrickPelosi: Mexico should not worry about Trump House lawmakers ask for answers on cooked ISIS intel allegations The Republicans who nearly derailed the THUD bill MORE (R-Pa.), David Dreier (R-Calif.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), and Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) spent the most money on postage.

Bob Van Wicklin, Kuhl’s spokesman, said Kuhl tries to hold a town meeting in all 145 towns across his district, which requires every registered voter to get an invitation in the mail. In 2006, Kuhl defeated Democrat Eric Massa by four points.