A look at congressional office expenses

The U.S. Senate is following the lead of the U.S. House and is entering the 21st century soon. On Monday, the Senate passed an appropriations bill funding Congress’ own budget. The bill would provide senators with office budgets of $3.1 million to $4.9 million next year, depending on the population of their state and other factors. It included a provision requiring Congress to post their office expenses online. Currently, they’re kept only in paper records.

But the data is already available online thanks to LegisStorm.

I’ve put together Minnesota’s congressional delegation spending up to the latest full year available. Where possible, I compared it to the same office’s spending back to 2004.

FY 2008 FY2007 FY2006 FY2005 FY2004 Increase
Klobuchar $2,455,415 $1,599,638
Walz $777,158
Ellison $878,792
Bachmann $754,929
Oberstar $1,153,911 $1,029,835 $1,056,817 $1,046,012 $921,187 25.3%
McCollum $1,004,280 $892,103 $849,939 $871,002 $813,563 23.4%
Coleman $2,288,895 $2,162,587 $2,138,923 $1,955,451 $1,889,943 21.1%
Sabo $966,036 $836,820 $800,529 20.7%
Kline $836,655 $815,467 $846,007 $821,164 $696,507 20.1%
Dayton $2,508,160 $2,339,313 $2,174,434 15.3%
Peterson $1,005,940 $1,005,239 $954,052 $943,859 $886,238 13.5%
Ramstad $861,371 $865,602 $865,980 $859,810 $797,103 8.1%
Gutknecht $720,731 $783,798 $688,906 4.6%
Kennedy $733,192 $809,807 $767,066 -4.4%

In most cases, the biggest expense — aside from the congressional salary — is the salary for the lawmaker’s chief of staff or administrative assistant. These numbers are not necessarily the annual salary, because they may include bonuses and they don’t include time a person may have split with a campaign committee.

In the last full fiscal year, these were the top earners in the position per congressional office:

Aide Assigned to Disbursement
Lee Sheehy Klobuchar $160,692.60
Mark Brownell Peterson $158,940.97
Bill Richard Oberstar $155,837.02
Kari Moe Ellison $155,434.75
Jean Hinz Kline $119,883.33
Joshua Syrjamaki Walz $104,166.70
Michelle Marston Bachmann $103,804.67*
William Harper McCollum $22,459.35

* – Includes salary of previous chief of staff.

Meanwhile, the Center for Public Integrity has drilled down the political food chain and examined financial disclosure requirements for state lawmakers around the country. Minnesota was ranked one of the worst.

  • JackU

    Um… On the state disclosure rankings, I’m not sure it says anything about the way the state operates. New York has a higher rank than Minnesota at #16. But last I checked they have a State Senate that is “inoperable” due to two Democrats who jumped ship and then one swam back making it a 31-31 deadlock. (I was in NY a couple of weeks ago as this was boiling over.) Which when I last talked to family in NY was being called into session by the Governor and meeting just long enough to adjourn.

    So, yes they have disclose more, but that doesn’t make the government any more functional. By the way both of the renegade Democrats in NY are the targets of criminal investigations.

  • http://www.trailblz.com brian hanf

    As someone who builds and files the campaign finance reports in 4 different areas (FEC, LA, CO and MN) I can tell you that the ranking is all messed up. LA has put a bunch of laws on the books with no rules or enforcment behind it. To Rank them 1st is telling my they really are not looking at what is actually happening.

    I would put Minnesota higher and give them a D- (in my own little ranking system) They have a lot of data you just can’t sort though it.

    Minnesota’s PDF documents make it hard for a 3rd party to compile and disclose the reporting.