D.C. city funds for needy used more for perks

December 1, 2011

By Luke Rosiak-The Washington Times

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells on Wednesday called for the elimination of special funds the city’s lawmakers are supposed to use to help the needy – money critics consider “slush funds” rarely tapped to help residents.

A Washington Times review of 10,000 payments totaling $3.3 million since 2004 shows that just 3 percent or $84,000 has gone to power and water bills, presumably for needy constituents, and $37,000 for phone bills. More – $133,000 – has been spent at pro sporting events.

Members also spent about $22,000 for delivery of bottled water and wrote $63,000 in checks to themselves, reimbursing themselves for meals with constituents and undisclosed other expenses from the so-called constituent services funds. Lawmakers raise money for the accounts from businesses and unions.

Mr. Wells, Ward 6 Democrat, called for the reform – backed by some but denounced by a pair of fellow council members – as part of a wish list of suggested changes to a comprehensive ethics bills under review by theCommittee on Government Operations.

The proposed legislation by council member Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Democrat and the committee’s chairwoman, took ideas from 10 ethics bills and set a starting point for restoring public faith in city lawmakers after two years of political scandal.

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/nov/30/city-funds-for-needy-used-more-for-perks/

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