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Latino Daily News

Thursday March 24, 2011

Congress’ Puerto Rico Delegate was 2010 Big Spender

Congress’ Puerto Rico Delegate was 2010 Big Spender

Photo: Democrat Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico is Congress' top spender in 2010

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

A non-partisan group has taken a look at office accounts for each member of the U.S. House and its committees and found that $1.36 billion was spent in 2010, and the delegate from Puerto Rico spent the most.

Non-voting delegate Pedro Pierluisi from Puerto Rico was identified as congress’ top spender in 2010, having spent $2.1 to run his offices in Puerto Rico and Washington. Personnel costs were the reason for the majority of his expenses, taking up $1.2 million, and about $174,000 went to printing and another $60,000 was spent on travel

The Sunlight Foundation, which looked at analyzed the data, shows that Pierluisi even outspent Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat out of California, who spent about $1.9 million to run her congressional district offices. (This total does not include the amount spent

Pierluisi’s office said the size of his constituency and Puerto’s Rico’s distance from Washington D.C. are the two biggest culprits in the high-level spending.

Dennise Perez, told USA Today, ““The resident commissioner of Puerto Rico is the sole representative in Congress of nearly 4 million constituents, which is five or six times as many as any other congressional district … Given Puerto Rico’s lack of full congressional delegation, our office must work closely with the state and local government officials to ensure that Puerto Rico is also we represented before the federal agencies.”

Lawmakers are given allowances to run their offices, though amounts vary depending on distance from the capital and the cost of office space. According to the Congressional Research Service, the average office House member’s allowance in 2010 was $1.5 million.

Since Puerto Rico is an island, Pierluisi’s only reasonable option for getting to and from Washington is by plane, and flight costs fluctuate throughout the year.

Just s few months ago, the Speaker John Boener pushed through a plan to cut all budgets of Congress by 5 percent, resulting in savings of around $35 million.

Behind Pierluisi and Pelosi were, and rounding out the top five spenders were Rep. Jim Costa, (D-CA), and though defeated for re-election last year, former lawmakers Dina Titus (D-NV), and Scott Murphy (D-NY).