- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2001

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has inked a half-million-dollar lease for posh offices on Manhattan's Upper East Side, giving the former first lady the most expensive hometown work space of any U.S. senator.
The New York Democrat signed the $514,148 lease about the same time her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was giving up an $800,000-a-year penthouse office suite under pressure from congressional Republicans and outraged taxpayers. Mr. Clinton abandoned the Carnegie Towers location on West 57th Street and moved uptown to more workmanlike quarters in Harlem.
Mrs. Clinton's 26th-floor Third Avenue office will be the most expensive local office of any senator, according to the General Services Administration, which regulates the costs of such deals.
The New York Post yesterday reported that Mrs. Clinton is paying $90,000 more annually than the next highest rent paid by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, for space in San Francisco. The Clinton lease is also more than double the rent paid by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, for his Manhattan digs in the same East Side neighborhood, the newspaper said.
Blared the tabloid's front page: "She blows $514G in taxpayer bucks on nation's priciest Senate office."
Jim Kennedy, Mrs. Clinton's spokesman, said she actually is saving taxpayers' money by not renewing a lease for former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's old office space in the Chrysler Building. The rent there was due to jump to $627,000.
Taxpayers will fork over $91 per square foot for Mrs. Clinton's office, a hair under the $91.14 maximum set by the GSA.
"This is labor-intensive, and that's about five times as many volunteers as the average Senate office has working on constituent case work," the Associated Press quoted Mr. Kennedy as saying. "Every year, somebody in the Senate has to have the most expensive offices and, probably through history, given the price of real estate, it is somebody from New York."
The 17-year-old building is owned by the Teachers Insurance Annuity Association of America. The peach-colored structure contains a 154-seat auditorium where the junior senator already has held two news conferences. Mrs. Clinton's suite comes with two conference rooms, offices and a kitchen.
Mrs. Clinton has been dogged by ethical questions since her election in November. Amid criticism, the Clintons returned White House gifts they had taken to their Chappaqua mansion. She raised eyebrows for signing a $8 million book deal for her memoirs. She has said she played no part in her husband's controversial last-minute presidential pardons, some of them to her political supporters.
The New York Post ran a list of four Manhattan office buildings that offered comparable space for considerably less money.
"To spend lavishly on her office sends a small but noticeable signal that perhaps she has less respect for the taxpayer than she ought to," Gary Ruskin of the Government Accountability Project told the newspaper. "Taxpayers, I think, would smile if the senator had an office with a bit less glitz, but costs us all less."


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