FOX19 Investigates: Congress spending money on snacks & mail - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

FOX19 Investigates: Congress spending money on snacks & mail

Rep. Steve Chabot Rep. Steve Chabot
House Speaker John Boehner House Speaker John Boehner

An audit in Washington is coming to light showing how much members of Congress are spending in their offices on everything from bottled water to the salaries for their staff. FOX19 obtained a copy of the audit, which runs more than 2000 pages.

The audit only covered members of the U.S. House and only those who were in office last fall, which in FOX19's viewing area would be Speaker John Boehner (R-West Chester) and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati). The members of Congress for Northern Kentucky and the Lawrenceburg, Indiana, area are new this year.

Coffee, bottled water, and snacks are popular on Capitol Hill. Speaker Boehner spent $1147 on them in the last three months of 2012, while Rep. Chabot spent $436.

"The Speaker's office provides refreshments like water, snacks and coffee to visitors to the Capitol, whether they are foreign dignitaries or constituents from Ohio," said Boehner spokeswoman Brittanny Bramell. 

A Chabot spokesman also pointed out that the food and beverages they buy are not for their staff.

"Congressman Chabot's office limits food and beverage purchases to meetings and events with constituents," said his spokesman, Brian Griffith.

Members of Congress are also allowed to send mail to voters at taxpayer expense. In the jargon of the Hill, they call this "franking." Speaker Boehner, whose reelection was easy, spent less than $1400 on postage between October and December 2012. But Rep. Chabot wasn't taking any chances. He spent $30,380 on mailings.

The audit also shows the top salaries in their offices.

As speaker, Mr. Boehner makes $224,000 a year. His chief of staff isn't doing too bad either. William Krieger II makes $163,196.

Rank-and-file members of Congress, like Rep. Chabot, get a salary of $174,000. Chabot's chief of staff makes nearly as much. The audit shows that Mark Wellman makes $140,000 a year.

Boehner's spokeswoman, Brittany Bramell, points out Congressional offices are being hit by the sequester's automatic spending cuts, though. "We planned ahead for the President's sequester," she said, "and have made spending cuts in other areas."

Calling it the "President's sequester" appears to be a dig at the White House, where the idea for the sequester reportedly originated. However, Pres. Obama has blamed Republicans for it going into effect.

Whatever the case with the sequester, the audit conducted in the House gives taxpayers an inside look at how their money is being spent.

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