Congressmen and car leases

June 10, 2011 18:05 pm

by Jason · 18 comments

Over at the AJC, Jamie Dupree notes that some members of Congress are spending rather lavishly on the taxpayer dime to lease cars (emphasis mine):

My review of what’s called the “Statement of Disbursements” from the House shows that at least 87 members of the House used money to lease some kind of vehicle for their official work.

Some of those 87 were frugal with your tax dollars – the lowest lease that I could find was by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), who paid $219 per month to get a vehicle from Acme Auto Leasing.

At the other end of the scale, there were some much larger numbers for those who made a lump sum payment on their vehicle.

Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat from North Carolina, spent $24,259.64 on an automobile lease with White’s Chevrolet Cadillac, according to his office expense figures. Those payments are usually for a two-year lease, so that works out to just over $1,000 per month for a vehicle.

Also making a big payment was Rep. Tom Price, a Republican from Georgia, who spent $23,733.85 on a two year automobile lease with Sandy Springs Toyota in his home state, just under $1,000 per month.

Say what?

Rep. Price often speaks about the need to decrease federal spending. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with that sentiment; but I don’t see how he can justify spending that much on a car. Price is opening himself up for some very appropriate criticism.

Price isn’t the only member from Georgia spending taxpayer money on cars, though his is the more egregious example. Here are how other members from Georgia are spending:

  • Hank Johnson: $650.42
  • John Lewis: $578.21
  • David Scott: $519.40
  • Phil Gingrey: $470.88
Nick June 10, 2011 at 6:52 pm

You mean the Dr. Tom Price from Ohio State?
Surely Dr. No didn’t accept gifts from boosters, I mean paid to much for a car!

Doug Deal June 10, 2011 at 8:28 pm

I thought he was from Michigan.

TheEiger June 10, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Every Congressman gets a set amount of money to spend on salaries and their office. Jamie Dupree even says there is nothing wrong with what the congressman is going. This is a non issue.

heroV June 10, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Hey everyone, this is a non issue because TheEiger said so. Everyone knows that TheEiger decides what is and is not an issue.

Kelly Nguyen June 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm

It most certainly is an issue. If a representative is genuinely serious about cutting government spending, he/she will do it on their own accord, no matter how much money is appropriated to them. Any money not spent can be returned back the the U.S. Treasury.

Monica June 12, 2011 at 5:20 pm

TheEiger is right, Dupree did say this is fully legal and common practice and does not cost taxpayers any more money they have already been paying. Congressmen get a set amount of money for running their office, they have a right to use that money however they want. So if one of them for example hires less people for his office, he can afford to LEASE a Cadillac. Lease – they’re not purchasing cars for their use. They have a limited amount of miles they can drive. And if your job includes driving around a lot, as mind does, you’d know that expecting our reps to use their own cars to get around their districts and campaigning would be absolutely ridiculous. Check out their congressional salaries, they’re not making millions. This truly is a non issue, and Jamie himself tried downplaying it when he was speaking on the radio, repeatedly pointing out that taxpayers are not paying any more money to those leasing caddis than to those who are leasing a chevy. They’re just managing their budgets differently.

Todd Rehm June 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm

MCs can also return money to the treasury – they’re under no obligation to spend it all.

To me it’s not about whether they enjoy the perks of the office or not, it’s about whether their actions are consistent with their stated beliefs.

Also, as far as campaigning, they should not be campaigning in a government-owned vehicle. Their campaign can pay for that.

Cassandra June 13, 2011 at 9:33 am

You show me any $1,000 per month car lease on a tax return, and I will show you an audited item.

This is a pol perk that business cannot match and it is wrong. Not FB sexting wrong, but still not Right.

bluedogdem June 10, 2011 at 9:45 pm

TheEiger, you are right, BUT how do you feel about paying your hard earned tax dollars to give a congressman money to lease a car for $1000 a month. I mean really $1000 a month. Only a politician would pay that for a lease. Yes it is in his office budget, but that still doesn’t make it right. Anyone who finds nothing wrong with this needs to have their head examined!!!!!

CobbGOPer June 11, 2011 at 3:34 pm

A $1000 a month is what some (if not many) people are trying to LIVE off of these days. While I understand their requirements for transportation, that kind of number seems a little excessive when you can lease BMWs nowadays for less than half that amount. What is he driving around in, a bullet-proof Hummer?

saltycracker June 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Maybe the Dr. has a high mileage lease…..& his other transportation/limo/air costs are low….or he justs gets out there more often……

Why would taxpayers be involved in leasing vs. mileage reimbursement unless the policy is to provide a car, insurance, gas & upkeep ? What is the policy ?

If upfront money is involved any outgoing legislator could lease a really nice vehicle just before leaving and then assume the balance of the lease !

chefdavid June 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Why can’t they just use the Washington public transportation?

bluedogdem June 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Paying $1000 a month to lease a vehicle shows Dr. Tom Price is a true fiscal conservative. HA HA HA!! Price can never again be called a fiscal conservative after pulling a stunt like this. Tom is one of the better guys up there, but this hurts him. I hope this story gets legs.

Todd Rehm June 12, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I wonder if $1000/month gets you the Lexus kind of Toyota.

KD_fiscal conservative June 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I wonder what kind of Lexus type of Toyota you get for $1000/month. You can lease a really nice top of the line Lexus for $500-700/month, so $1000 is over the top not matter how you look at it. Either he’s running some kind of scam, Sandy Springs Toyota played him, he just didn’t care enough to look for a good deal….which is probably the most likely case, after all its “not his money, so why should he care”

Charlie June 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Without any attempt to contact Congressman Price and without any knowledge of what he drives, I’m going to go WAY out on a limb and guess he probably has a high line domestic sedan or SUV, most likely something akin to a Caddy DTS.

While it’s true German luxury makers have great lease deals (you can lease a BMW Z4 right now for $399/month for 24 months), domestic manufacturers are opposite. Their residuals are so bad that a lease often costs twice what a foreign nameplate competitor would cost.

That said, he appears to be the only Republican who sees the need to lease a car for his office, and is doing so at twice the monthly payment as his Democratic counterparts who elected to do the same. #notsmart

KD_fiscal conservative June 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm

That said, he appears to be the only Republican who sees the need to lease a car for his office, and is doing so at twice the monthly payment as his Democratic counterparts who elected to do the same. #notsmart

Why would he see the need to spend waaay more than necessary? Simple. As Rob Woodall would say, “because its free.”

Three Jack June 13, 2011 at 11:01 am

good point kd.

i say set an example instead of being one. what a hypocrite.

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