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Taxpayers funding some not-so-bare necessities

Flickr photo / TW Collins

Back in May, we raised our eyebrows at a New York Times story that reported taxpayers are footing the bill for the vehicles driven by hundreds of members of Congress.

Today, we’re raising our eyebrows a little more after discovering how members of Congress use the $1.3 million to $1.63 million they get each year to run their offices – the swanky name for this money is a “Member’s Representational Allowance.”

The findings aren’t exactly making lawmakers appear thrifty.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) spent $11,224 for four Sony Bravia 46-inch, high-definition LCD TVs for his Chicago-area offices. Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) shelled out $1,864.18 for a barbecue with colleagues at Red, Hot & Blue, and almost as much ($1,425) for Chinese food from Meiwah. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) purchased “tropical interior plants” for $190.

The list goes on in the article from Politico, including more information on the types of cars lawmakers are leasing. (Hint: They’re not all fuel-efficient.)

Now, maybe we’re being a little too hard on some of these representatives. There might be a perfectly good reason why they spent this much money on interior décor and office do-dads last year. But at least we can rest assured that if a Congress member’s office overspends, the money comes out of his or her salary.