- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lean economic times didn’t stop members of Congress from splurging taxpayer dollars on food and drink, including a $6,090 meal tab racked up in a single day by Guam Delegate Madeleine Z. Bordallo during a visit home with members of the House Natural Resources Committee, according to a new report.

The bill that Mrs. Bordallo, a Democrat, charged to taxpayers on Aug. 11 was the largest expenditure by a House member on food and beverages during the third quarter, according to an analysis of the members’ $145 million in disbursements conducted by watchdog.org.

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, had the second most expensive meal: $5,380 on Aug. 28 at Middleton Hall, a posh banquet facility in Mr. Hoyer’s Southern Maryland district.

The menu for the Hoyer affair featured chicken cordon bleu, parsleyed red potatoes, green beans, garden salad and rolls for about 200 people, who were served coffee, tea and water — no alcohol, said Alice Leeson, office manager at Middleton Hall.

The spread was for a women’s networking fair hosted by Mr. Hoyer as part of Women’s Equality Day, said Hoyer spokeswoman Stephanie Lundberg.

“The event provided an opportunity for women to strengthen their professional opportunities and included a vendor fair, educational speaker and mentoring experience for young professionals,” she said. “The amount listed includes cost for the venue rental, food and beverage.”

Matthew Mateo, a spokesman for Mrs. Bordallo, said the price tag for the Guam event covered the cost of catering a meeting for about 300 island officials, residents and visiting House members at the Outrigger Guam Resort, where the ballroom overlooks an expansive tropical swimming pool and offers views of picturesque Tumon Bay.

The buffet-style meal offered entrees of chicken, pork and fish with side dishes of red rice, potato salad and assorted vegetables. Guests could partake of pastries, ice tea and fruit punch, Mr. Mateo said.

The resort “provided logistical and venue support for the meeting with constituents, including food and beverages, venue setup and event preparation, and technical support [such as] audio and video support services,” he said.

At least six House members attended the Aug. 10-12 trip to Guam. They included House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall II, West Virginia Democrat, and Rep. Henry E. Brown Jr., South Carolina Republican.

When all of the food and beverage records for the quarter were totaled, Mrs. Bordallo led all House members with a $12,834 tab, followed by Rep. Linda T. Sanchez, California Democrat, who spent $7,233, according to the watchdog.org survey.

The 3,400 pages of expenditure information culled by the group were made available for the first time on the Web, upholding a promise that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, made in June. The information previously was available only by visiting government offices.

The expenditures run the gamut from the $8.80 spent on laundry services by Rep. Mike Quigley, Illinois Democrat, to the $62,623 in travel reimbursements claimed by Rep. Don Young, Alaska Republican.

Other expenditures included $2,468 spent by Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr., Georgia Democrat, for a new carpet; $18,931 spent by Rep. Doc Hastings, Washington Republican, on furniture; $14,133 spent by Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., New Jersey Democrat, on security; and $17,846 spent by Rep. Donna Edwards, Maryland Democrat, on printing and advertising.

The list of pricey meals included $4,657 spent by Rep. Jean Schmidt, Ohio Republican, on a catered event July 31 at the Capitol; $4,066 spent by Rep. Barbara Lee, California Democrat, on a catered event Sept. 23 at the Capitol; and $3,863 spent by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, for an event in his district.

Travel meals were calculated separately. Rep. Suzanne M. Kosmas, Florida Democrat, led the pack with $2,996 worth of dining on the go. Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, came in second, spending $2,041 on travel meals.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

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