I-Team: Perks for members of Congress

9:03 AM, Nov 15, 2011   |    comments
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By Leisa Zigman, I-Team Reporter

St. Louis (KSDK) - As members of Congress try to tell us why we need spending cuts, tax cuts, and sacrifice, the I-Team wondered what Congress is willing to sacrifice.

Investigative Reporter Leisa Zigman found, when it comes to driving in style; sacrifice doesn't apply for more than 80 members of the House or Representatives.

List of Congressional vehicle leases

Missouri Democrat Emanuel Cleaver is the biggest spender when it comes to Congressional car leases. Tax payers cough up $1900 a month to lease a converted airport shuttle. Rep Cleaver doesn't own a personal car, but he uses the leased vehicle to get around his district. He says the mobile office actually saves taxpayers money because it takes the place of renting retail space.

You're paying $773 a month for Republican Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California to lease a 2011 Lincoln Hybrid MKZ.

The third highest ranking democrat, James Clyburn of South Carolina leases a 2010 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid at a cost of $1,139 a month.

Tea party favorite Chip Cravaack, a Republican from Minnesota promised to drastically cut spending if elected. He started using taxpayer money to pay for his car lease two months after taking office. You pay $1,000 a month for his Chevy Equinox.

Melanie Sloan is the Executive Director of CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

"Members of Congress don't really think the public is watching. They think they can get away with a behavior that most Americans find reprehensible. They just don't think anyone's going to find out what they are doing," said Sloan.

We found ten Congressmen driving around in vehicles that cost more than $1,000 a month.

Retiring Democrat Congressman Jerry Costello from Belleville leases a 2010 flex fuel Ford Escape for $699 a month.

St. Louis Democrat Lacy Clay leases a car for $1,058 a month. Rep. Clay sent a statement explaining, "My leased vehicle is a base model Ford hybrid, proudly built in the USA by skilled UAW auto workers. It provides energy-efficient, secure transportation to numerous community events and meetings with my constituents in St. Louis."

The Congressmen from Missouri and Southern Illinois not leasing vehicles includes:

Rep. Todd Akin (R) MO 2nd Congressional District

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D) MO  3rd Congressional District

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R)  MO  8th Congressional District

Rep. Sam Graves (R) MO  6th Congressional District

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R)  MO 9th Congressional District

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R) MO 4th Congressional District

Rep. Billy Long (R) MO 7th Congressional District

Rep. John Shimkus (R) IL 19th Congressional District

Rep. Bobby Schilling (R) IL 17th Congressional District

Rep. Aaron Schock (R) IL 18th Congrsesional District

Source: Statement of Disbursements, United States House of Representatives.

KSDK

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