Broun’s Office Funds Run Low

Posted July 22, 2008 at 6:41pm

Having nearly expended his annual office budget by midyear, sources said on Tuesday that Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) may be forced to seek assistance to manage the office’s day-to-day functions. At the same time, Broun’s office said it was unaware of any problems.

A Broun spokeswoman denied that the office will furlough or otherwise reorganize staff.

“We’re not laying off anybody,” spokeswoman Jessica Morris said. In a separate interview she said the office’s annual budget remains intact, stating: “It’s not been depleted that I’m aware of.”

But according to a Republican consultant familiar with the matter, Broun — who sends out prodigious amounts of constituent mail — has spent nearly half of his $1.38 million annual budget on letters, telephone messages and other communications with nearly six months left in the calendar year.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), said Tuesday: “We’re aware of the situation, and are willing to offer whatever assistance we can.”

Morris, who is based in Georgia, said she was not aware of any help the office was receiving. Broun’s chief of staff, Aloysius Hogan, did not return a telephone message Tuesday afternoon.

The Georgia lawmaker’s office declined to provide detailed information on its mailing costs or budget, noting those figures are available in the quarterly expenditure statements published by the House, which detail lawmakers’ spending in a line-item format.

“All of that will be public information,” Morris said. Records are currently available only for the first quarter of 2008, however, and second-quarter records are not expected to be made publicly available until mid-August.

According to House records, Broun spent $109,559 on mass mailings in the first quarter of 2008, making him the second-highest spender behind only Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), who recorded $111,122 in mailings.

A review of Broun’s mailings, copies of which are maintained by the Clerk of the House, shows a flurry of activity leading up to April 2008. Broun faced a July 15 primary challenge and was prohibited from sending mail within 90 days of that election.

Leading up to that contest — in which he defeated state Rep. Barry Fleming with 71 percent of the vote — Broun signed off on 10 mass-mailed letters, along with two first-class mailings, a newspaper ad, seven e-mail newsletters and a telephone survey.

“Everything that’s gone has been approved,” Morris said, referring to the franking commission, formally known as the Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards, which must approve the content of such mailings.

Each House Member is provided with an annual base budget of about $875,000 and receives additional funds based on the distance between the lawmaker’s district and Washington, office space rental rates in each district, and an “official mail” allowance determined by variables including residential addresses and postage rates.

According to the quarterly House disbursement records, each office received at least $1.1 million in 2008 for their Members’ Representational Allowances, with many budgets, including Broun’s, listed between $1.3 million and $1.4 million.

The Office of the Chief Administrative Officer oversees the annual budgets and monitors account balances for each office, according to CAO spokesman Jeff Ventura.

“When they go too low, too fast, we give them a heads-up,” Ventura said. He declined to disclose current balances for individual offices, stating that is up to the discretion of individual lawmakers.

One knowledgeable GOP aide, who asked not to be identified citing the sensitive nature of the subject, said: “We’re not aware of any Member whose account has completely depleted,” adding, “The emphasis is on completely.”