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Group Says Meehan Sleeping In DC Office

Meehan nailed for sleeping in his congressional office rather than finding housing in D.C.

WASHINGTON – A citizen’s watchdog group has requested an investigation into more than 30 members of Congress allegedly sleeping in their Washington, D.C., offices instead of finding lodging elsewhere, which, they claim, constitutes an unfair tax break.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released a statement Thursday announcing that they had asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether members of Congress have been violating House rules by sleeping in their offices, and questioned whether doing so would violate tax laws for not reporting lodging as a taxable fringe benefit.

One of the House members named in the letter is freshman Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Patrick Meehan. Meehan did not deny sleeping in his office Thursday, but had harsh words about the group’s complaint.

“They have got to be kidding with this one. I wish that my personal circumstances were such that I could rent or buy a place in D.C. while raising a family back home, but like every family we make tough choices to make it work. For me, that means sleeping on a floor. Many other Members of Congress do the same thing,” said Meehan in a statement sent to Fox 29.

The reply from Meehan came after the executive director of the organization compared the House members they claim are sleeping in their offices to college students.

“House office buildings are not dorms or frat houses,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan in a statement. “If members didn’t want to find housing in Washington, they shouldn’t have run for Congress in the first place.”

Some might see the move of staying in a Washington office as a sign that a House member isn’t putting down roots and is committed to their district. Although Meehan points to financial realities for some members not finding housing in Washington, another congressman listed in CREW’s complaint is former Vice President Dan Quayle’s son, freshman Arizona Republican Rep. Benjamin Quayle. Delaware Democratic Rep. John Carney is also named in CREW’s letter.

The Associated Press has reported a spokesman for OCE declined to comment except to say the office had received CREW’s letter, and several congressional officials said they weren’t aware of any rules or guidance specifically addressing the issue of sleeping in offices.

CREW argues the IRS treats lodging as a taxable fringe benefit unless it is offered on the employer’s business premises, is for the employer’s convenience and is required as a condition of employment.

“As living in a House office clearly is not a condition of serving in Congress, members must pay taxes for imputed income based on the fair market value of their lodging,” reads a statement from CREW.

However, the issue is not new. Members of Congress have been sleeping in their offices for years. Former Michigan Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra had reportedly slept on the couch in his Washington office for 18 years.

Read a copy of CREW’s letter here.

One Response

  1. Ethics watchdogs? Geez, they must have too much time on their hands. They work in Washington, D.C. and this is the best they can do for an ethics violation? Geez.

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