Though they campaigned on a platform of reducing the deficit and ridding wasteful spending, more than a half-dozen Tea Party congressmen have collectively spent over $100,000 in taxpayer money on personal vehicles.
ThinkProgress examined spending records for the 112th Congress and found seven GOP freshmen — Reps. Chip Cravaack (R-MN), Sean Duffy (R-WI), Bill Flores (R-TX), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), and Steve Womack (R-AR) — who had spent an average of $15,000 on cars for themselves. All together, their taxpayer bill totaled $106,643.
There is nothing illegal about the practice of using taxpayer money to lease personal-use cars, but it smacks of hypocrisy for Tea Partiers like Duffy who promised to “lead by example” when it comes to deficit reduction.
Many of the vehicles go beyond a standard sedan. For example, Cravaack is charging taxpayers more than $1,000 a month to pay the lease on his 2011 Chevy Equinox, a crossover SUV with all-wheel drive.
Here’s what the seven Republican freshmen’s congressional offices have spent on cars in the past year and a half:
- Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN): $25,580.84
- Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI): $24,525.00
- Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX): $10,997.45
- Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO): $20,978.07
- Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH): $4,889.76
- Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS): $8,848.00
- Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR): $10,746.59
- TOTAL: $106,643
Data from this report was compiled from the House of Representatives’ official Statement of Disbursements, a quarterly publication regarding all expenditures for House offices, for the 112th Congress.
Angela Guo contributed to this report.
To clarify, these payments were not personal expenditures from each congressman’s $174,000 salary. The $106,643 in car payments were discretionary office expenses.
Duffy has released a statement claiming the vehicle he leased is a converted minibus that he uses to around the congressional district as a “Mobile Office”.