- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2001

Say what you will about the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton, but this is a couple who shares meaningful experiences or, at least, seems to duplicate them. Remember when he faced a grand jury? She faced one, too. He was cleared not very convincingly by the Independent Counsel; she was cleared not very convincingly by the Independent Counsel. Her brothers sell pardons; his brother sells pardons (or tries to). His poll ratings fall; her poll ratings fall. He picks Manhattan office space more costly than any other president's and retreats to Harlem under attack; she picks Manhattan office space more costly than any other senator and moves in.

Having signed away $514,149 taxpayer dollars annually, New York's junior senator has taken 7,900 square feet of office space on the 26th floor of a 50-story Manhattan high-rise shimmering with "peach-colored Finnish granite," according to the New York Post, which first reported the story. Sen. Clinton's office at Third Avenue and 49th Street is six blocks from Grand Central Terminal, three blocks from the United Nations, and one block from the Waldorf-Astoria. It is also one block from the office of New York's other senator, Chuck Schumer. And it is also almost two-and-a-half times more expensive than Mr. Schumer's digs, which lease for $209,532 a year.

More than the right location, location, location, Mrs. Clinton seems bent on achieving the appropriate setting, setting, setting something less utilitarian than her colleague's suite down the block in which he actually shares a corner office with his deputy chief of staff and has to make do with get this just one measly conference room. Now, in exchange for her constituents' extra bucks, Mrs. Clinton has a prestigious address at a building designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, an architectural firm of note; a huge, if windowless, private office; two conference rooms (one with clear glass walls and maroon leather armchairs); six private offices for senior staff; assorted cubicles for other aides; a large room for case workers; a kitchen area; and access to the building's spacious meeting area and 154-seat auditorium for the occasional press conference.

To be sure, Mrs. Clinton did find it within herself to turn down more expensive office space, including that of retired Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, which would have cost taxpayers more than $600,000 (Mr. Moynihan's last lease cost about $280,000). Nonetheless, she still managed to top the Senate heap, out-spending her closest competitor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, by almost $100,000. As the Government Accountability Project's Gary Ruskin put it, "To spend lavishly on her office sends a small but noticeable signal that perhaps she has less respect for the taxpayers than she ought to" and perhaps, at the same time, more respect for her own position than she should.


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