Last month, I wrote about 8th District Congressman Mike Bishop spending money for “lodging” for his Chief of Staff Allan Filip. They spent $1,800 in the first two months of 2015 with a firm headed up by Michigan Republican and Bishop supporter (and donor) Ron Weiser.
The Detroit News is reporting that Bishop’s office confirmed that the expense lodging for Filip:
Members of Congress aren’t supposed to be reimbursed for lodging in the Washington area, and Bishop wasn’t, according to his office.
“The lodging expense was for a staffer which was paid at fair market value and is fully allowed under House rules,” Bishop spokeswoman Kelli Ford said.
“There’s a benefit to having a chief of staff based in Michigan, and this was a cost-effective route to handle that for the time being.”
Bishop’s chief of staff is Allan Filip, former district director for Bishop predecessor Rep. Mike Rogers, who lives and is based in Michigan.
The lodging expenses covered Filip’s housing in Washington on a temporary basis after Filip started on Bishop’s staff. By the end of April, he had found other accommodations and is no longer being reimbursed for lodging, according to the office.
It’s standard practice for congressional staffers such as a chief of staff to travel for Washington on official business and have their lodging reimbursed by the office from the member’s representational allowance, according to the House Administration Committee which oversees [such things.]
Staffers away from their duty station on official business may be reimbursed for lodging, according to the Members’ Congressional Handbook.
I get the whole “traveling to Washington on official business” bit. If Filip was in town for a week or two and then heading back to Michigan, nobody would care. But Filip wasn’t traveling to Washington. He’s based in Washington as Bishop’s Chief of Staff which Bishop announced on his website in December 2014. Washington, D.C. WAS Filip’s duty station and the Members’ Congressional Handbook explicitly says, “Staff whose duty station is in the location of the meeting may not incur lodging expenses when staff meetings are held in that area.”
And two months isn’t “lodging”. That’s “rent” while he finds an apartment in the DC area.
Finally, if it was okay to pay his rent for January and February, why did they stop doing it?
Bishop or Filip should reimburse the taxpayers for $1,800.