MAY 02, 2008
The U.S. House of Representatives lets members lease vehicles—including insurance and gas—with taxpayer dollars and many lawmakers abuse the program by picking luxury gas-guzzlers that can run up to nearly $1,000 a month, not including fuel and other maintenance costs.
Thankfully, the Senate doesn’t offer this perk but House members counter that savings with their lavish taste. Around 125 members of the House have cars paid for with tax dollars and, although some make the effort to save by leasing modest vehicles, many go all out.
For instance New York Democrat Charles Rangel, who represents the poor neighborhoods of east and central Harlem, leases a Cadillac DeVille for $774.54 a month. The car is 17 feet long with a 300-horsepower engine that devours gas, which is of no concern to Rangel since he doesn’t pay for it.
When a local news outlet asked Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, about the possibility of finding a cheaper car, he actually said constituents might see it as disrespectful. He added that when he’s in New York his car is his office, that he actually uses it to conduct congressional business so it must be comfortable.
Other members with expensive vehicles that get horrible gas mileage include Queens Democrat Gregory Meeks, who leases a Lexus LS 460 for $998 a month and Brooklyn Democrat EdolphusTowns, whose Lincoln MKX costs taxpayers $715 a month. Other fancy gas guzzlers include Illinois Democrat Bobby Rush’s Lincoln Navigator, Louisiana Democrat Charlie Melancon’s Chevy Tahoe and Florida Democrat Alcee Hastings’ Infiniti M45.
Those wondering why only Democrats are mentioned in this expose can address inquiries to the notoriously liberal east coast newspaper that broke the story. Only two Republicans were mentioned in the report, one who leases a 2004 vehicle for a reasonable $310 a month, and another who doesn’t use the lease program because doing so creates “many ethical issues.”
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