Minnesota Rep. Chip Cravaack is among several House Republican freshmen who have spent thousands since January on the perks of the office, including expensive car leases and pricey advertising contracts, Politico reported Wednesday.
Politico found at least 15 GOP freshmen who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on mass communication to boost exposure in their home districts. And Texas Rep. Francisco Canseco spent $75,000 on a one-year online advertising contract.
Cravaack’s automobile lease – among the most expensive of any member of Congress at about $1,000 per month, according to MinnPost – earned the rookie Republican criticism from Minnesota Democrats on Wednesday.
Politico writers Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan found several GOP freshmen who’ve been quick to spend thousands on perks like these since taking office in January. But the article also finds several examples of prominent rookie Republicans – including North Dakota’s Rick Berg – who have kept their taxpayer spending to a minimum:
Minnesota Rep. Chip Cravaack, who unseated longtime Iron Range Democratic Rep. Jim Oberstar, spent $1,700 on an automobile lease in March. His office said the price tag is inflated because of initial purchasing costs, but the 2011 Chevrolet Equinox AWD will cost taxpayers â€œroughly $1,000 [per month] for the remainder of the lease.â€
Congressional car leases have been a significant source of controversy in the past â€” Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) faced criticism for a $777 a month Cadillac lease a few years ago â€” but Cravaackâ€™s office said he needs the car because of the size and climate of the district, frequent trips home and â€œan extensive mobile office constituent outreach program.â€
The spending habits of freshmen like Kinzinger contrast with those of other high-profile rookie members who spent nothing on congressional franking during the first quarter, including Republican Reps. Allen West and Sandy Adams of Florida, Rick Berg of North Dakota and Larry Bucshon of Indiana. Some Republican frosh have so far decided against leasing cars on the taxpayer dime as well. Many lawmakers donâ€™t send mailings in the first quarter, insiders say.