Boehner to Close Taxpayer-Funded Hill Office

Now on K Street, ex-speaker gives up controversial perk

Taxpayers foot the bill for staff and offices when speakers leave Congress. (Al Drago, CQ Roll Call file photo)
Taxpayers foot the bill for staff and offices when speakers leave Congress. (Al Drago, CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted September 21, 2016 at 11:34am

Former House Speaker John Boehner plans to shut down his taxpayer-funded office on Capitol Hill by Oct. 31, the one-year anniversary of his departure from Congress, his spokesman said Wednesday.

The Ohio Republican, who announced Tuesday he was joining the global lobbying and law firm Squire Patton Boggs, had taken advantage of a little-known perk for former House speakers who have been entitled since 1970 to a post-congressional office for up to five years.

Boehner’s main taxpayer-funded employee, Amy Lozupone, who had served as director of administrative operations in his speaker’s operation, will join her boss at Squire Patton Boggs.

“Speaker Boehner notified House officials recently that his intent is to close the office in Longworth by October 31, 2016,” Boehner spokesman said by email.

[Boehner Joins Influential K Street Firm]

Taxpayer-funded offices for former Speakers are not to be used for political purposes and are instead intended for wrapping up matters related to their constituent and congressional business.

Boehner kept his post-speaker office expenses well below the limit. Former speakers are entitled to employ up to three aides earning about $100,000 each. The Republican also used a vacant space in the Longworth House Office Building to save money, his spokesman noted.

[Boehner’s Office Has Spent $100K Since Retirement]

Still, Boehner’s draw of taxpayer funds irked some of his former colleagues — including GOP Reps. Walter Jones of North Carolina and Thomas Massie of Kentucky — enough that they introduced legislation to do away with the perk.

“There’s nobody that is the speaker of the House that leaves that position that’s probably not going to make a couple million dollars when they leave,” Jones recently told CQ Roll Call . “So for the taxpayer to have to be responsible for having that office … just didn’t make sense to Mr. Massie and myself.”

[Taxpayers Foot Bill for Boehner’s Post-Speaker Office]

Jones said that even though he supported efforts from the party’s conservative wing to oust Boehner, he didn’t craft the bill to pick on the Ohioan.

“I think Mr. Boehner’s a good person,” he said.

Boehner’s taxpayer-funded office reported spending about $138,000 through June, according to House disbursement filings. A majority of the funds went to pay staff salaries. Other expenses include transportation, mail, office supplies and communications. 

Former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., spent about $1.5 million running his post-speaker office between 2008 and 2012, House disbursement records show.

Sean McMinn contributed to this report.