• Mar 17, 2010
Remember when Congress got all up in the grilles of Detroit automaker chief executives for traveling to Washington in luxury courtesy of the companies private jets? It appears our lawmakers are less than perfect when it comes to sourcing their own cost-effective transportation, as Politico is reporting that at least 10 members of the House of Representatives have monthly vehicle leases that exceed $1,000 per month in taxpayer money.

But those leases, they're for specialized, bulletproof SUVs to keep our elected officials safe, right? Well, not so much. A little digging from Politico shows that members of Congress just don't know how to shop around. Of the top five lease prices listed, the most exorbitant monthly outlay at least appears to come with the best excuse. Missouri Democrat Emanuel Cleaver pays a reported $2,900 a month for a mobile office equipped with wifi and a wheelchair lift. Representative Cleaver justifies the hefty price tag by arguing that he uses the vehicle as his mobile office, foregoing the off-site office many other representatives have. Oh, and the mobile office runs on used cooking oil.

Other congressmen have less credible excuses, but it apparently isn't stopping them from giving it the old college try. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) $1,628 to lease a GMC Yukon. Reyes blames short lease terms and fuel efficiency regulations on the high lease prices. Meanwhile, we suspect that every other American with decent credit can choose from dozens of CUVs or SUVs with 24-month leases for less than $600 per month.

Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Mich.) rolls in a $1,230 per month Chevrolet Tahoe. A spokesperson for Cheeks Kilpatrick claims the 13th District rep. leases the vehicle because General Motors headquarters resides within her district. Ironically, Cheeks Kilpatrick's son, Kwame Kilpatrick, the former Detroit mayor who left office in disgrace after being found guilty of perjury, caught plenty of flack a few years back for spending $1,000 per month for a taxpayer-funded Lincoln Navigator.

Rep. Harry Teague (D-N.M.), reportedly worth more than $36 million dollars, pays $1,266 per month for a Chevrolet Malibu. That's right, folks, a Malibu. Not a bad vehicle by any stretch, but $1,266 per month? Really? Other high lease offenders include Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), who rides in a $1,259 per month hybrid Toyota Highlander, Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), who trolls the St. Louis streets in $1,059 a month Ford Escape hybrid and Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.) with his $1,026 per month Mercury Mariner hybrid. Not to be left out, Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) apparently also spends $1,143 every month for an unspecified leased vehicle, and multimillionaire Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) leases a Lexus RX400h for $843 taxpayer-funded dollars a month, reportedly arguing that he needs the vehicle's bigger accomodations because he's over six-feet tall and has to make an hourlong commute twice a week.

Head over to Politico to read more about congress and the expensive vehicles they lease on your dime. We're thinking there are thousands of Autoblog readers who can help their congressmen procure a more cost effective lease vehicle than some of the ridiculous prices you just read about. Any volunteers?

[Source: Politico]


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  • 108 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Congressman wasting tax payer money, really? Why do some want to send more tax money and responsibility to Washington again?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Can we please get Seth Meyers and Jerry Seinfeld to tackle this topic on the Weekend Update?!?!?!
        • 4 Years Ago
        @throwback: they're not slaves. we elect and pay them to make laws, not buy cars. We want to make sure that we're able to recruit talent, not rich people who will represent as a hobby. There are plenty of representatives who don't have millions.
        • 4 Years Ago
        EARTH TO AUTOBLOG:

        AB @2010-03-17: "Remember when Congress got all up in the grilles of Detroit automaker chief executives for traveling to Washington in luxury courtesy of the companies private jets?"

        AB @2008/11/19 ( http://www.autoblog.com/2008/11/19/motown-ceos-fly-private-jets-to-capitol-hill-beg-fest/ ): "Earth to the not-exactly-Big 3 CEOs: When you fly to Washington to beg for an industry bailout, do yourselves a favor and leave the corporate jet at home."

        Maybe it was Autoblog who was getting "all up in the grilles of Detroit chief executives for traveling to Washington"?

        Nice way to clean the slate there: "Oh, no, wasn't us!!! We don't pile on!! It was the [now hated] Congress!"

        • 4 Years Ago
        Democrats of Republicans, these people should be publicly EXECUTED.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Carjacker,

        It's not just Democrats. Don't be gullible and think that one party squanders billions of your tax dollars less than another. They just spend it in different places. They're all self-serving and beholden to the respective special interests that keep them in office.

        One more reason why it shouldn't be a two-party system, which is just one step away from a political monopoly.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Its suppose to help the economy or something like that, .............that's their argument.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Luis, I don't have millions and can afford my own car. Are you telling me need to pay for cars so we can get decent representation? How about they use public transportation, we can pay for metro cards.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm shocked--shocked--that congressmen are wasting taxpayer dollars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Last time I heard this it included gas and insurance too. Something stories like this tend to leave out. Also, they might be 18 month leases or something with like 20-25K miles per year. I'm guessing about the latter, but I think there is more to this story we aren't getting.
        • 4 Years Ago
        if it includes insurance in the payment, it could be fairly expensive to insure a congressman
        • 4 Years Ago
        How about they pay for their own transportation? Many of these folks are worth millions.
        their sense of entitlement is sickening.
        • 4 Years Ago
        This is the reason why I'm completely unsympathetic to any notion of "we need to give more of our money to Washington." Fact is, they have plenty of money, they're just spending it incredibly poorly. They do nothing to reign in their own expenses, yet expect the public to foot the bill. I'm not just talking leases, I'm talking every other facet, be it govt contracts, subsidies, infrastructure, etc.
        • 4 Years Ago
        $843 for a RX400h isn't bad, considering there's probably little to no down payment and high mileage requirements.

        Other than that, 12-24 month leases are pricey, and with no down payment, expensive. Corporate leases are expensive, and I'm sure we could all do much better since we'd spend the time do so. My guess is their staffers don't have much experience car shopping, and is that really a surprise?
      • 4 Years Ago
      "House Intelligence" indeed...
      Tim
      • 4 Years Ago
      The higher than normal lease payment allows the buy out option at the end of the lease term to make the purchase price that much lower. Effectively the payment is also principal so when the congressman's son, daughter or best friend buys it they pay less. Welcome to America land of the free for all!
      Tim
      • 4 Years Ago
      so the question i have.... do they have high leases in order to have very low residuals... and do they purchase the vehicles in the end... and then sell them at high profits... i dont understand how any of these leases make sense....
        • 4 Years Ago
        I worked for a company that leased a Dodge Sprinter van for a really high amount, but the pay-off amount at the end of the lease was only $1. It had something to do with taxes being much lower for the company if they lease vs. if they buy. I am not sure what kind of tax law applies to senators buying cars though...
      Chris V.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You can lease a BMW 750Li, with all wheel drive for under $1200.00 per month. The car retails for over $80,000. Are these people serious? We need some accountability.
      rtnrottes
      • 4 Years Ago
      These elected officials have been feeding at the public trough of money too long. They should, if needed, get a car allowance of $600,00 a month.If they want to drive something else then they can make up the difference. They get paid, like anyone else, who is lucky enough to have a job right now.

      They create.d this mess that we are in and we will never get out of. This county will be lucky enough to survive another 15 years at the rate they ith thare spending/printing money.

      What they shoud do with this next jobs bill is take thegi money and give everyone over the age of 21 and equal amount. That money should then be taken to pay bills,pay off the house or buy a house, etc. Anything left then could be saved or spent to raise the economy.

      Let the taxpayers start to have their say on how the money they give to Congress be spent.

      Enough said.

      Later,

      E
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nobody has touched on the real explanation here.

      Which is that the local dealership is being paid back for his campaign contributions. No more, no less.

      People slimy and dishonest enough to make it in Washington don't stumble into $15,000 a year leases because they don't know any better, or they didn't shop around.
      dlweston25
      • 4 Years Ago
      why are these jerks driving jap cars?...Why cant they buy their own cars ..I have to buy mine..
      Connie Ronrad
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why is this the first time anyone has ever checked for such stupid over inflated prices?????? This has been going on since the beginning of time & if our president was white at this time. WE WOULD NEVER HAVE KNOWN!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      $843 for a Lexus RX400H doesn't sound horrible. Not really my choice but better than $1,266 for a Malibu.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Everyone calm down,

      Our elected officials may not understand what a reasonable cost of a car lease should be...but they have down to the penny how much we will be 'saving' for a 10 trillion dollar health package.

      Two questions:
      1. Would any of these individuals pay this amount with money from their own pocket and thinks its reasonable?

      2. When will a majority of our Country realize when other people spend your money, they aren't as concious about the decisions they make? Government never saves money on anything - its all more expensive. Some Government is necessary protection, regulation etc. but we all know its not efficient.

      Lets not continue to give these people more power.


        • 4 Years Ago
        Is that why the VA and medicare has lower costs than the private sector?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I work for the VA in TX and no they are not lower. I go through private because it is cheaper than the VA. The VA throws money, like most government agencies, out the window on anything.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Luis you are such a moron. Stop making up crap and just go away.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Luis -

        Lower costs for the people ON Medicare - or those PAYING for it?

        The amount the government pays the provider for Medicare services is LESS than the private sector pays. If I pay $3 for a gallon of gas and the government pays $1 - they should be able to drive the car for less money...but they just find ways to waste money.
      • 4 Years Ago
      here's an idea. buy a fleet of different cars from all the automakers. make the congressmen/women drive those. when they leave office, they turn them in and the incoming congress person takes it over. once they reach a certain mileage, say like 250,000 miles, then they get a new one.
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