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Posted by on Feb 16, 2011 in Politics | 0 comments

Sleeping In The Office An Ethics Violation?

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says so:

By CREW’s estimation at least 32 members — and as much as a fifth of the freshman class — save on rent and sleep on cots, air mattresses or couches in their federal offices whilst in DC.

Sure, most congressmen earn more than $100,000 a year, so you’d think they’d be able to afford at least a studio in Washington. But from that money they must provide for their families, pay for weekly flights home and maintain their residences in their districts. In other words, if you’re not already wealthy and live far from the East Coast, this could get expensive very quickly. Not to mention that it’s the cool, in thing to be seen as little invested as possible in Washington DC. So, an increasing number of members are proudly living like backpackers, showering at the gym and sustaining themselves on mini-fridges and hotpots in their offices.

That from Time’s Jay Newton-Small, who calls it creepy. I call it crazy — not the sleepover. The claim that it’s an ethics violation:

The House Ethics Manual states “official resources of the House must, as a general rule, be used for the performance of the official business of the House.” This prohibition is derived from regulations of the House Administration Committee, contained in the Member’s Handbook, providing official resources may be used to pay “[o]nly expenses the primary purpose of which are official and representational. The Member Representational Allowance may only be used for official and representation expenses, it may not be used for personal expenses.”…

It is unseemly for members of Congress to sleep in House offices, thereby increasing the work of housekeeping staff and interfering with necessary maintenance and construction. It is also distasteful for members who sleep in their offices to wander the halls in sweat clothes or robes in search of a shower. Such conduct undermines the decorum of the House of Representatives.

The NBC report is above. CBS is here.

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