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Congressional Auto Leases

A review of Congressional spending records shows that 76 members of Congress are spending some of their office account money to lease vehicles, with the highest price coming in at over $1,500 per month.

The number of vehicle leases paid for by taxpayers dropped by almost 13 percent from a year ago, when 87 lawmakers were spending money on car leases, and just like last year, it is a bipartisan exercise.

41 Democrats were leasing a car this year with their office account money, along with 35 Republican members of the U.S. House.  The "top ten" in terms of monthly costs include 6 GOP lawmakers and four Democrats.

Let's remember one thing - there is nothing illegal about spending your money that way as a member of Congress.  Here is the list of the 76 members I found with auto leases - the figure at right is the monthly price, as some members pay up front for an entire year, while others pay each month.

This information was gathered from the "Statement of Disbursements " issued each quarter by the House of Representatives.

Emanuel Cleaver D-MO $1,583.33
Sean Duffy R-WI $1,316.25
Dennis Rehberg R-MT $1,298.00
Dan Burton R-IN $1,284.78
John Conyers D-MI $1,000.00
Gregory Meeks D-NY $1,000.00
Randy Neugebauer R-TX $1,000.00
Bobby Rush R-IL $1,000.00
Joe Barton R-TX $998.89
James Clyburn D-SC $994.52
Edolphus Towns D-NY $957.21
Dana Rohrabacher R-CA $918.63
Cory Gardner R-CO $910.74
Kenny Marchant R-TX $899.67
Barbara Lee D-CA $898.55
John Carter R-TX $880.96
John Culberson R-TX $880.00
Kevin Brady R-TX $871.16
Mike Ross D-AR $851.28
Alcee Hastings D-FL $839.94
Cliff Stearns R-FL $789.25
Laura Richardson D-CA $781.88
William Clay D-MO $779.08
Michael Michaud D-ME $777.78
Gene Green D-TX $775.84
Sheila Jackson Lee D-TX $768.23
Joe Baca D-CA $761.17
Sam Johnson R-TX $758.65
Don Young R-AK $748.73
Hank Johnson D-GA $725.79
Mario Diaz-Balart R-FL $722.02
Kevin McCarthy R-CA $716.25
Raul Grijalva D-AZ $709.28
Jerry Costello D-IL $699.69
Michael Simpson R-ID $698.13
Mike Coffman R-CO $671.51
Nick Rahall D-WV $671.41
Howard McKeon R-CA $662.83
Andre Carson D-IN $657.99
Silvestre Reyes D-TX $655.46
Collin Peterson D-MN $652.00
Wally Herger R-CA $650.00
Lynn Woolsey D-CA $647.97
Don Manzullo R-IL $619.19
David Dreier R-CA $598.92
John Lewis D-GA $578.21
Steve Womack R-AR $565.61
Karen Bass D-CA $562.11
Jesse Jackson, Jr. D-IL $540.14
George Miller D-CA $520.10
Danny Davis D-IL $516.39
Ed Royce R-CA $509.98
Stephen LaTourette R-OH $502.24
Heath Shuler D-NC $485.31
Adam Schiff D-CA $484.35
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen R-FL $479.86
Phil Gingrey R-GA $470.88
Bill Flores R-TX $455.55
Gus Bilirakis R-FL $449.60
Al Green D-TX $436.89
David Scott D-GA $432.83
Brad Miller D-NC $431.87
Mel Watt D-NC $431.81
Mike McIntyre D-NC $430.82
Peter Welch D-VT $425.68
Bill Shuster R-PA $392.00
Anna Eshoo D-CA $389.60
Howard Berman D-CA $382.78
Bill Johnson R-OH $370.13
Jim McDermott D-WA $346.46
Ted Deutch D-FL $301.17
Ed Pastor D-AZ $294.33
Mike Pence R-IN $282.68
Xavier Becerra D-CA $271.80
John Sullivan R-OK $236.78
Rodney Alexander R-LA $167.99

Four lawmakers use their office account money to lease two cars: Reps. Rehberg, Burton, Neugebauer and Peterson.  Rehberg and Burton are both at the top when it comes to automobile lease spending.

One provision in a spending bill for the Congress that was sent to the House floor this week would limit spending on leased vehicles to no more than $1,000 per month, which means only four House members would have to pony up money to pay for their cars.

The one exception is that if you use a vehicle as a "mobile district office," you can spend more than $1,000 per month - and that's what the top spending, Rep. Cleaver, has funded in the past.

The bottom line is that the auto leases for these lawmakers come to an average of $674.08 per month, at a cost of $51,228.91 overall each month.  Multiply that by 12 months, and you get a final cost of $614,746.92 for 2012.

Numbers can be deceiving though - for example, Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK), who is only paying $236.78 per month according to spending records.  

But that's because his two year lease featured a lump sum payment at the start of over $15,000 - so once that is factored in, the true cost is much higher.

The same was true for Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA), who had a previous lump sum payment of $20,000, bringing his monthly payments down to $167.99.

Your tax dollars at work - you can determine whether or not you think that is okay or something that shouldn't be spent in the first place.

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