FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) – The end-of-term payments to members of former U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey’s staff were in total among the highest given this year.
The Coloradoan of Fort Collins reports that Markey gave 19 staffers raises, lump-sum payments or both between Dec. 1 and Jan. 2, her last official day in office. According the House’s quarterly statement of disbursements reviewed by the newspaper, Markey had more than $148,000 in payroll for the first quarter of this year that included two working days before she left office.
None of the additional money went to the former congresswoman, who’s now an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security. She did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Coloradoan or The Associated Press.
None of Markey’s payments appear to violate House rules, which limit lump-sum payments from exceeding a month’s salary, according to the newspaper. As of a member of Congress, Markey got an annual office budget of $1.5 million.
The average staff payments made in the final weeks of office for 93 departing House members was $38,000.
Jock Friedly, founder of the nonpartisan LegiStorm, said he has found departing members of Congress are roughly twice as generous with end-of-term bonuses than returning lawmakers.
“The staff are being put out of jobs, after all, through no fault of their own,” Friedly said, and lawmakers “feel they need to reward them somehow.”
Of those leaving Congress after losing in the November election, Jim Marshall, D-Ga., and Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Arizona, were the only ones who paid their staffs more in their waning days in office than Markey. Their staffs were given $225,121 and $178,428, respectively.
All three were members of the Blue Dog Democrats, a coalition that promoted balanced budgets and fiscal discipline, and all were defeated in their re-election bids last year.
Citizens Against Government Waste said such bonuses should stop, citing the budget deficit and President Barack Obama’s call for a pay freeze for federal employees.
“I don’t think the taxpayers would support anyone getting bonuses,” the group’s spokeswoman Leslie Paige said. “If we were in the black, theoretically we could be in favor of them.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)