Tuesday, 09 August 2011

Hoyer, Boehner Cost Taxpayers $35,000 for 2010 Breakfast, Lunch Mtgs.

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Republicans and Democrats may be at loggerheads about the debt ceiling and what to cut from the budget, but they agree on one thing: It’s OK to bill the taxpayers for gourmet coffee, pricey pastries, and bottled water.

In 2010, CNSNews.com reports, then-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md., left) and then House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) spent nearly $35,000 at a bakery and coffee supplier to keep their hard-working staff members and colleagues refreshed and ready to go at a moment’s notice.

 

The conservative news service looked into the disbursement reports of the U.S. House of Representatives to get the data.

Hoyer, of course, is now the Minority Whip; Boehner is Speaker of the House. One wag observed that it appears as if the pair was running their own stimulus program.

Boehner’s Beans

Boehner, who presents himself as a conservative, didn’t spend quite as much as Hoyer, CNSNews reports. He funneled a mere $16,176 from the Treasury to his preferred providers. His favorite was Joe Ragan’s Coffee, a company which Boehner paid nearly $15,000 in 2010.

According to CNSNews, “[m]ost of the tax money Boehner spent at Joe Ragan’s — $14,636.05 of it — was for services itemized in the CAO’s reports as “food & beverage” purchases. However, Boehner also spent $1,540.99 in tax dollars on “bottled water” provided by Joe Ragan’s.”

Over the course of calendar year 2010, Boehner’s House minority leader’s office made 71 purchases from Joe Ragan’s Coffee. These included 37 purchases of bottled water and 34 of food and beverage. Boehner’s average purchase from Joe Ragan’s was $228.

The largest payment Boehner’s minority leader’s office made to Joe Ragan’s was for $1,328.27 for “food & beverage” services provided on Nov. 4, 2010 — two days after the Nov. 2, 2010 congressional election.

The smallest payment Boehner’s office made to Joe Ragan’s was $5.53 for “food & beverage” services provided on January 25, 2010.

These funds, CNSNews reports, were about 12 percent of Boehner’s $137,414.79 budget for “supplies and materials.”

As for Ragan’s gourmet coffee, it “starts with the best and then gets better,” its website brags.

Arabica beans, grown in the mountains of Colombia, are considered the best in the world. At these elevations the air is always moist, the temperatures perpetually mild. The result: the richest coffee in the world. Joe Ragan’s hand-selects only the finest Arabica beans available. We take only the best of the best, and roast them to our own secret recipe.

CNSNews also reprises the rules of the House on spending money:

Members and employees may be reimbursed for food and beverage expenses incidental to an official and representational meeting that includes a person(s) who is not a Member or employee of the House. Members and employees may not be reimbursed for food and beverage expenses related to social activities or social events (e.g. hospitality, receptions, entertainment, holiday or personal celebrations, and swearing-in or inauguration day celebrations). Members and employees may not be reimbursed for the cost of alcoholic beverages.

Oddly, this rule does not apply to the leadership offices. The ethics rules of the House cover those offices.

When CNSNews called Boehner for comment, his spokesman did not return the call.

A spokeswoman for the House Administration Committee told CNSNews that Boehner’s purchases were well within the rules of the House, regardless of how they look.

Hoyer’s Bakery Cafe Bill

Hoyer stuck the taxpayers with a tab for nearly $18,000 to cover his purchases at The Corner Bakery Cafe, a popular nationwide 119-outlet restaurant chain store growing, it seems, with the same unfathomable speed as the national debt.

“[A]s majority leader,” CNSNews reports, Hoyer made 87 total expenditures for ‘food and beverage’ in calendar year 2010 at Corner Bakery — a restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch items and also has a catering service.”

Representative Hoyer’s average purchase from the Corner Bakery was $208.66. His largest purchase was $466.50 on April 22, 2010 and the two smallest were for $72.70 on June 15, 2010 and July 16, 2010.

Hoyer’s 87 separate purchases from the Corner Bakery in 2010 work out to an average of one purchase for every fourth day of the 365-day year. The records, however, show that Hoyer sometimes made multiple purchases from the Corner Bakery on the same day.

Observers say that is a lot of dough to spend at a “corner bakery,” but all the purchases conform completely to the rules of the House, CNSNews reports:

When asked what the $17,945.17 in tax dollars Hoyer spent at the Corner Bakery went to buy, Hoyer Spokeswoman Katie Grant told CNSNews.com that it was food for breakfast and lunch meetings.

“The office provides food and beverages at large breakfast and lunch meetings, as is common practice among leadership offices,” Grant said in an email.

Good thing, then, Hoyer went to Corner Bakery Cafe. The nationwide “bakery,” which has a chief executive officer, a chief operating officer, a chief financial officer, and four senior vice presidents, says it has one aim:

With its mission to “Feed the Day,” Corner Bakery Cafe continues to develop startegic growth plans and seek out successful franchise partnerships. As Corner Bakery Cafe’s network of partnerships continues to expand, the team is working to bring its premier bakery-experience into more neighborhoods across the country at an unprecedented rate.

Taxpayer subsidies, courtesy of Hoyer’s office, will presumably help Corner Bakery Cafe pursue its “aggressive growth strategy.”