Monday, December 15, 2008

What's Latin for ripping off taxpayers?

On top of their very generous $76,000-a-year salary and their gold-plated benefits package, members of the Pennsylvania Legislature are entitled to $158 every time they show up for work in Harrisburg.

The $158 per-diem payment is supposed to cover food and other expenses of traveling to their jobs. You know, just like your boss treats you to lunch every day or just pays you a bonus for showing up.

Brad Bumstead examines the per-diem scam as part of the overall Bonusgate corruption investigation in his latest column for The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

From his column:
Since I've been covering the Capitol -- starting in 1983 -- lawmakers of both parties have been ripping off taxpayers by claiming the full per diem while also charging the state for pricey dinners. Sometimes, the caucus or chief clerk's office would provide dinner at the Capitol while legislators were in session.

The Maverick Steak House was the favorite watering hole for years until it burned down. Vissagio's, an Italian eatery, was also a regular spot. Tavern on the Hill has been a more recent favorite. There's no doubt whatsoever that many collected per diems while also charging the state for fancy dinners.

It's double-dipping.

Sometimes, leaders would put the arm on a lobbyist and take a half-dozen members along for a free meal, all the while collecting the full per diem.
Read the full column at the newspaper's Web site.


TheBitterAmerican said...

"In hoc ferplenti!"

throwthepigsout said...

The majority of legislators follow these shameful practices. It is sick and disgusting that they can bilk the taxpayers out of this money legally (but not morally). Brad Roae, 6th district, is not one of these jerks. Rep. Roae doesn’t take per diems; he submits receipts for actual expenses. He does not drive a state sponsored SUV; he drives his own car and gets reimbursed for mileage. He tried to have the COLA raise removed from his paycheck when he was first elected two years ago but the state refused, so he has been donating his raises to charity.
Maybe if a few of the leaders in Harrisburg followed Rep. Roae’s lead, others would follow.