Group asks for investigation into congressmen sleeping in House offices

  • U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh

    U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh

  • U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley

    U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley

  • U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski

      U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • DANIEL WHITE/dwhite@dailyherald.comU.S. Rep. Bobby Rush

    DANIEL WHITE/dwhite@dailyherald.comU.S. Rep. Bobby Rush

 
 
Posted2/11/2011 6:00 AM

Congress is getting to be too much like a frat house, one government watchdog group says.

On Thursday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington called on the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether members of Congress who sleep in their offices are violating House rules and tax law.

 

Among the 33 members the group mentions as sleeping in their offices, rather than paying for their own apartments or other housing, are 8th District Rep. Joe Walsh, a McHenry Republican, and 5th District Rep. Mike Quigley, 3rd District Rep. Dan Lipinski and 1st District Rep. Bobby Rush, all Chicago Democrats.

The group's letter to the Congressional Ethics Office notes that Bill Weidmeyer, superintendent of House office buildings, has said members sleeping in their offices adds to the burden of the housekeeping staff, and has made building maintenance more difficult, "since members complain they can't sleep through the noise of construction."

The group suggests that living out of one's assigned office may violate the prohibition on using taxpayer resources "for anything other than the performance of official duties."

Members also should be paying taxes on where they sleep, the letter reads.

"Americans expect members of Congress to follow the tax laws just like everyone else. If legislators are going to treat their offices as dorm rooms, at the very least they should pay the appropriate taxes," Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement. "In any event, it brings discredit upon the House for members of Congress to sleep in House offices. ... And really, who wants to run into a member of Congress in need of a shower wandering the halls in sweats or a robe?"

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Walsh has told the Daily Herald that he is choosing to sleep in his office because he doesn't want to "settle in" to Washington, D.C. He sleeps on his office couch, and in the mornings, showers and shaves at the congressional campus gym. Quigley, in office since 2009, says he loves the short commute.

"He's been doing this since he got to Washington," spokeswoman Aviva Gibbs said. "He's got a mattress that leans up against the wall, drops it down at night."

Bill Cable, of the Office of Congressional Ethics, simply noted that the letter had been received, but had no comment.