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Caught Our Eye

One lawmaker stretches budget dollars to the max

Posted by Keturah Hetrick on Dec. 11, 2017
Republicans make up the House's top six spenders of public funds so far this year. But only one has spending habits that put him potentially at risk for having to personally repay thousands of dollars to the U.S. Treasury, according to a LegiStorm review of House budgets and expenses.

Rep. James Renacci (Ohio) has spent 78.5 percent of his annual allowances in the first three quarters of 2017. That's nearly 5 percent more than the next highest spender, Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.). After the third quarter mark, other members have so far spent an average of only 63.9 percent of their annual budgets.

If Renacci keeps up those spending habits in the year's final quarter, he'll have overspent his allowances by nearly 4.7 percent - more than $60,000. Members who go over budget are legally obligated to personally repay expenses to the Treasury Department.

Fortunately for Renacci, actually going over budget is rare, thanks to various mechanisms in place to prevent just that. Kelsey Knight, the congressman's communications director, explained to LegiStorm that, in addition to "annual subscriptions and resources [that] are paid upfront and in total at the beginning of the year," "significant staff changes" had taken up the bulk of the office's budget.

Renacci, who is running for Ohio governor and not running for reelection to the House next year, has so far spent 65 percent of his total annual budget on personnel compensation, more than any other member of Congress in 2017. 

Still, says Knight, "You will not see us going over budget."