italco's Place

Government information blog with an Anti-Corruption agenda.

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Congress Bills Taxpayers For TVs, Cameras, Lexus

Posted by italco on June 1, 2009

Congress

By LOUISE RADNOFSKY and T.W. FARNAM

WASHINGTON — 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 Senate and House release volumes of the reimbursement requests for these allowances, but do not make them available electronically. A Wall Street Journal review of thousands of pages of these records for 2008 expenses showed most lawmaker spending flowed to areas such as staff salaries, travel, office rent and supplies, and printing and mailing.

But it also turned up spending on an array of products, from the car leases and electronics to a high-end laptop computer and $22 cellphone holder. Rep. Howard Berman expensed $84,000 worth of personalized calendars, printed by the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, for his constituents. A spokeswoman for Mr. Berman, a California Democrat, didn’t return requests for comment.

Rep. Hastings, a Democrat, and Rep. Turner, a Republican, made their purchases in the third quarter. Rep. Faleomavaega, a Democrat, bought the TVs for $1,473 apiece in mid-November. Spokespeople for the three didn’t return requests for comment.

“This information is not widely available to the public,” said Steve Ellis, vice president of the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense. “This is stuff that every constituent should be able to know.”

The House and Senate administrators can deny reimbursement if they deem an expense request to be inappropriate. Jeff Ventura, spokesman for House chief administrative officer Daniel Beard, said no formal records are kept on the number of claims deemed inappropriate, but that such instances are rare. The Senate operates similarly.

See full story at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124364352135868189.html#mod=todays_us_page_one

Understand , this is just budget items we are talking about here. This does not include the lobbyist “freebees”. The entitlements our Congress endulges in are disgusting.

This is why the 2010 election is so important. We The People need to stand up and be heard. We need to make or lawmakers understand that we are tired of this type of politics. “Beat The Drum” and root out corruption in congress in 2010. I have designed an entire page dedicated to this very thing. Please visit my blog page and hold your representatives accountable for their actions. Why should they receive so much and have such great benefits while those of us who elected them struggle? Make your voice heard!!

“Beat The Drum”

(go here to get info on your representatives)  https://italco.wordpress.com/politics-anti-government-corruption/ 

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24 Responses to “Congress Bills Taxpayers For TVs, Cameras, Lexus”

  1. Geonite said

    To add to what Nev was saying. When I worked for Superfund we had to give an account for every hour of work that we did on each file. Since each of us has about a dozen files and you’re working on them simultaneously, a few hours on this one, then that one then a third one the next day then back to the first one then the fourth one etc. And each site had its own codes (LONG ones).

    It would take about two hours every pay period to do my time sheet. So for the sake of accountability taxpayers were paying two hours of my salary every two weeks. How much sense does that make?

    • italco said

      Geo – exactly.

      Employee’s have to account for every little thing yet, upper management doesn’t? Why are they entitled to receive perks you and I aren’t and then make your job miserable by over trianing you in ethical pratices to cover their asses. They are not entitled to the perks any more than we are. All they have to do is manage their post properly and quit with the selfish greedy mentality. This is an upper management and elected offical issue…not employee’s…the employee’s “are” required to justify every little thing.

    • Geonite said

      And sometimes we get what we need 🙂

      http://geonite.blogspot.com/2009/06/maybe-i-was-wrong.html

  2. nevenera said

    Not saying that this should be condoned, just that we should remember that it is only a few doing this. They should be punished accordingly, but what this means for us is more training (sigh) and more paper work (double sigh) all of which takes us away from actually doing the work that you the public is paying us to do….

    • italco said

      Thats the whole problem …exactly. Why is it the issue of the employee?

      This is an issue of the elected offical mis-managing his/her post. This is an upper management ethical issue. It isn’t about having pizza at a meeting or a perk/benefit to the little guy/girl. Those thing can be explained through proper accounting practices. The issue is the dishonesty and selfishness of those we elect to office and those individuals who think they are entitled to more than everyone else.

    • nevenera said

      Agreed Italico, but unfortunately when these things hit the press, it is us down at the bottom that end up catching all the… well you know what.

      For example, when I looked at your next post, my thoughts were Oh god no….. We spend so much time preparing and training for things like audits, we have so many of them from so many different sources.

      Some are needed and accountability is important. But whenever the press gets hold of these things, panic ensues and rules are made swiftly and by people who have no idea of the work that the people being audited to. Thus disaster, stress and mess ensue.

      Public outrage has very little effect on those elected and that should be accountable, and lots of effect on us, the ones that are not doing anything wrong.

      Just vote the coughidiotscough out of office!!!!!!!

      But please no more audits lmao

    • nevenera said

      The problem is that as far as the government rules go, there is no difference between that plasma TV and the pizza card the penalty is the same.

    • italco said

      Nev, exactly…I even posted the code of ethical conduct applying this rule on the page link at the bottom of the post. It clearly states accepting anything of personal gain is against the rules…then may I ask? Why are these same rules NOT being enforced on the elected government officals that accept free dinners, sporting event tickets, and family vacation trips.

      Freebees are common place in congress, yet you, as a governent employee, can’t even accept a pizza card from your boss for doing a good job? What makes your boss’s boss and the elected offical think they are entitled to go golfing with their AIG buddies. Is it because AIG is paying for it so therefore they don’t have to CYA their own budget?

      It is wrong and they know it…yet they do it anyway…with no fear of the rules being enforced on them.

    • italco said

      Want to hear something that will even anger you more…I know it does me.

      That dinner, sporting event, family vaction, and golfing trip our government officials accept as his/her entitlement???

      It is a write off for the company giving it to them and therefor, the tax payers are actually paying for our representatives to be bribed and influenced by the special interest groups. It is wrote off ontheir taxes…can you believe the gall of it all?

  3. nevenera said

    It is true we have to keep those in power accountable, and right now the British are also having to deal with this kind of thing.

    However, most of us that work for the government don’t make much and don’t do that kind of thing, but have to deal with all the fall out from these kinds of things. I give you a couple of examples. Someone I was working with ordered supplies from a company, the company routinely gives everyone who orders more than X amount a small gift, of a key chain or in this case a Pizza card. Not sure what to do with it she eventually threw it away. Because had she taken it she could have lost her job, not because she did anything wrong, but because it might have appeared that she did.

    Another example, our boss is taking us out to brunch… we all have to pay for ourselves, because he cannot give us anything that costs more than a certain amount.

    So while we do need to pay attention to these things, it is good to remember that most of us who work for the government work very hard to keep you safe, healthy and happy, and that most of us don’t make very much compared to what our counterparts in the private industry make.

    BTW Italico sorry I have not been here too much recently.

  4. Ann Nonomus said

    Italco- I’m so glad to see you do this blog! Was hoping you would continue on what you had been doing in the past! Great job and thank you!:)

    • italco said

      Thank you Ann…I apprecieate your contribution to the research page I linked on this report. I will keep on keeping on…lol

  5. highplainsgirl said

    I suppose you would have to know why they made these purchases. Like the TV’s, maybe they use them for Intl. conference calling, or something. The Lexus was unnecessary, why won’t a Malibu do, like I get when I rent a car? I’m sure this is just a tiny fraction of frivolous spending that goes on, though.

    • italco said

      HPGirl – I wouldn’t have an issue with a justifiable expense. My issue is with the accountability part of this…the system appears broken if there are no checks and balances to keep everyone honest.

  6. jruthkelly said

    This one nudges my cynicism. I have little faith in any election producing a class of representatiaves who are capable of seeing that such budget expensing is unethical. Is it possible there is even one out there who sees this clearly for what it is or are these types wired so as to assume they must have the luxury to go with the responsibility, incapable of connecting the dots? Keep on, Ed…

  7. I wish we could find out if these purchases were denied reimbursement.

  8. Lette said

    Talk about taking advantage of your position. There’s truly no way to spin this. People really need to look into all aspects of their state representatives. Vote them out! Keep beating the drum Italco!

    • italco said

      I am going to keep beating it until everyone hears it…My goal is to get the message through…One little voice joined by millions of little voices will make a loud noise…lol

  9. Lette said

    The House and Senate administrators can deny reimbursement if they deem an expense request to be inappropriate.

    I’d love to see them explain these expenses as anything BUT inappropriate!

    • italco said

      Thats just it Lette…they don’t have to justify it…and this is just the buget items…nothing about expensive dinners paid by special interest groups, the box seats at sporting events, or the family vacations paid for by the boys from AIG and such…The lobbying perks are not even mentioned.

    • Lette said

      Yeah, this is pretty bad!

  10. italco said

    We can not stop the over spending by complaining. It is our vote in this next election cycle that will make a huge difference. All 435+ House Of Representative seats and 36 Senate seats are up for re-election. That is 88% of congress to be elected in 2010. Lets get rid of the corruption right now…hold there feet to the fire and elect ethical representation. Make this past Congress accountable for the collapse of our economy…it wasn’t all President Bush’s fault!! We have corrupt members on both sides of the aisle. Only “we” can fix it…Vote them out!!

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