Lawmakers Spent Taxpayer Money on $9.1M in Bonuses

Aides rewarded with surplus cash from lawmakers' expenses
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2009 6:33 AM CDT
200 House lawmakers rewarded their stuff with excess goverment funds last year.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – The lawmakers blustering about corporate bonuses haven't shied away from using government funds to reward their own staffers, a Wall Street Journal look at the records reveals. More than 200 House lawmakers from both parties paid $9.1 million in bonuses to 2,000-plus staff members in 2008—one of the highest amounts in years—using taxpayer-funded office budget money that would otherwise have been forfeited.

The payments to staffers ranged from a few hundred dollars to $14,000. Some lawmakers returned the excess budget cash to the government instead of meting it out among aides, but those who didn't—including senior House Financial Services Committee members—defend the long-standing practice, saying it is a small reward for staff who put in long hours for government pay.