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Dems Call for Ethics Probe Into Lawmakers Sleeping in Offices

Dems Call for Ethics Probe Into Lawmakers Sleeping in Offices
(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 06 March 2018 08:42 AM

More than two dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus signed a letter calling for a probe into the "legality and propriety" of House lawmakers sleeping in their offices, Politico reported.

"There's something unsanitary about bringing people to your office who are talking about public policy where you spent the night, and that's unhealthy, unsanitary — and some people would say it's almost nasty," said Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the top Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, Politico reported.

Lawmakers who sleep in their offices overnight include House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., among dozens of others with estimates ranging from 40-plus to more than 100, the report said. Most of those who sleep in their offices are male Republicans, but some Democrats and women also do it, Politico reported.

The practice is meant to highlight lawmakers for being thrifty, but the letter said it is a violation of ethics rules.

"Members who sleep overnight in their offices receive free lodging, free cable, free security, free cleaning services, and utilize other utilities free of charge in direct violation of the ethics rules which prohibit official resources from being used for personal purposes," the letter to the Ethics Committee said, Politico reported.

The letter was sent Dec. 13 and called for a response by Jan. 5. Members said they have not gotten a response. Members are discussing whether to send a follow-up letter.

Democrats have said that the lawmakers sleeping in their offices could create a hostile work environment, but there has not been an indication that the behavior has led to harassment or untoward behavior, Politico reported.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., said that lawmakers pay taxes on reserved parking spots in the Capitol, but can live for free in their offices.

"If you park your car in a reserved spot, you pay taxes on that. You park your body in a reserved spot overnight on a daily basis and there's no tax implication. That doesn't seem to make much sense," Watson Coleman said in Politico's report.

One member of Congressional Black Caucus critiqued Republicans for being in favor of cutting safety net programs while living rent-free in a government building. "I think public housing should be for people who need it, not for members of Congress," the member said, pointing out that some of the lawmakers who sleep in their offices are multimillionaires, the report said.

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., weighed in on the issue in December, saying that the policy of lawmakers sleeping in their offices is "unseemly." 

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More than two dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus signed a letter calling for a probe into the "legality and propriety" of House lawmakers sleeping in their offices.
democrats, ethics, capitol hill, offices, sleeping
418
2018-42-06
Tuesday, 06 March 2018 08:42 AM
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