ThinkProgress has done some sleuthing and found that seven Tea Party freshmen, who came to Congress on a platform of strict frugality and deficit reduction, have been sticking taxpayers with the bill for their own personal cars. These are some of the same people who hijacked the transportation bill conference process by speechifying about spending when hardworking Hill staff were up nights trying to make compromises.
There’s nothing illegal about it, as ThinkProgress reporter Scott Keyes says, “but it smacks of hypocrisy for Tea Partiers like [Sean] Duffy who promised to ‘lead by example‘ when it comes to deficit reduction.” Remember, these cars are for personal use, not for traveling on Congressional business — although Duffy released a statement in response to the ThinkProgress report claiming the vehicle he leased is a converted minibus that he uses to get around his congressional district as a “Mobile Office.”
The hardest pill to swallow here is that the Tea Party rep who’s billing the public most extravagantly for his hot wheels is none other than Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN) — the guy who defeated transportation reform hero James Oberstar in the 2010 election. [NOTE: It’s been brought to my attention that Cravaack isn’t actually a member of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus, though he was elected with wide Tea Party support, endorsed by Tea Party Express, and says Tea Party values “are pretty much what my values are, too.”]
He’s racking up more than $1,000 a month in expenses for his 2011 Chevy Equinox, a crossover SUV with all-wheel drive.
Since Tea Party adherents tend to favor policies that basically require everyone to own a car, shouldn’t these guys already have their own wheels?