Congressman Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, has positioned himself as one of the biggest Washington foes of government spending, particularly spending by Democrats. In 2009, he said, "When you look across the country you see families tightening their belts to live within their means, and states are tightening their belts to balance their budgets. Washington is the only place that is going on a wild spending spree during these tough economic times."
In February, Scalise authored an amendment to a federal spending bill that would block funding for many of President Barack Obama's aides and advisers (e.g., the much-loathed "czars").
Scalise, however, has no problem paying his own aides and advisers handsomely. Recently, the nonpartisan public information website LegiStorm published details of salaries and bonuses paid to congressional staffers in the first quarter of 2011. Scalise was Louisiana's most generous House member when it came to doling out salaries and bonuses to his staff.
According to LegiStorm, Scalise spent $241,804 on salaries and bonuses in the first quarter of 2010. The average cumulative salaries and bonuses paid during the same time by members of Louisiana's House delegation was $200,578. More embarrassing for the GOP: The state's most frugal congressman was Cedric Richmond, Louisiana's only Democratic representative. Richmond's staff took home a meager $147,342 — 61 percent of what Scalise spent on his office. Also near the bottom was another House freshman, Republican Rep. Jeff Landry, who spent $163,386. (Both Richmond and Landry took office Jan. 3, while the other representatives' payroll ran Jan. 1-March 31.)
Asked about the disparity, Stephen Bell, Scalise's communications director, wrote in an email, "Last year, Congressman Scalise returned $104,575 from his annual budget to the taxpayers, for a total of more than $375,000 returned since being elected in 2008, and earlier this year he helped pass a 5 percent cut in the budget of all House members." (According to the report, Bell pulled down $12,999 in the first quarter of 2011.)
The totals for the Louisiana delegation: Scalise (1st District), $241,804; Rep. Charles Boustany (7th District), $235,426; Rep. Rodney Alexander, (5th District), $223,011; Rep. Bill Cassidy (6th District), $203,406; Rep. John C. Fleming (4th District), $189,669; Landry (3rd District), $163,386; and Richmond (2nd District), $147,342. — Kevin Allman