Broun’s Office Shed Staff, Made Budget

Posted March 13, 2009 at 5:16pm

Despite an ambitious mailing effort that threatened to bankrupt Rep. Paul Broun’s House office budget by mid-2008, records show the Georgia Republican succeeded in ending the year with more than $52,000 in the bank after drastically slashing his office’s head count.

According to House records, Broun’s office spent a svelte $190,000 in the last six months of 2008, a fraction of the combined $1.14 million in office expenses reported through the end of the second quarter in June.

The Georgia lawmaker’s office submitted $1.33 million in receipts in 2008, just shy of its allotted $1.39 million annual budget.

Each House lawmaker is provided with a Members’ Representational Allowance to provide for items such as staff salaries, official travel and office supplies.

Broun’s accelerated spending level in early 2008, consuming nearly 80 percent of his total budget, was largely the result of his unusually prodigious mass mailings.

According to House spending records, Broun spent more than $254,000 on franking mailings to his constituents in 2008 — in addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars in printing and production costs.

While Broun defended his mailing practices, he was also forced to make administrative cuts in order to finish the year without exceeding his budget.

House records show Broun’s office employed just 10 people on a full- or part-time basis between the Washington, D.C., and three district offices through the end of December. That total is half of the 20 full- or part-time workers listed in records ending in June 2008.

Among the positions that Broun’s payroll shed after the second quarter were chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and legislative director, as well as field representatives and legislative assistants.

A Broun spokeswoman said Friday that the Georgia lawmaker expects to continue to issue frequent missives to constituents but that “the mistakes that were made, we’re going to ensure that they don’t happen again.—

In his fourth-quarter spending report, Broun recorded nearly $1,100 in official mail expenses, although he did not record any mass mailings, defined by the House as at least 500 pieces of nearly identical mail.

“In 2008 [Broun] made a commitment to constituents to reconcile office expenditures,— spokeswoman Pepper Pennington said. “We are pleased to report we ended the year with a surplus, all while … still providing first-rate constitute service for Georgia’s hardworking taxpayers.—

Each House Member is provided an annual base budget of about $875,000 and gets additional funds based on the distance from the lawmaker’s district to D.C., office space rental rates in the district and an “official mail— allowance determined by variables including residential addresses and postage rates.

According to the House disbursement records, each office received at least $1.1 million in 2008 for their MRAs, with many budgets, including Broun’s, from $1.3 million to $1.4 million.

If a House office exceeds its annual budget, an overdraft may be taken out of the Member’s Congressional salary, but no other funds are available to the office.