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?