As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

CA-04: Mr. Limited Government

This is going to leave a mark.

Tom McClintock, California's Alan Keyes, is supposed to be this rock-ribbed conservative who never voted for a budget and who rails against "wasteful spending." I guess it's OK if it's McClintock doing the wasting.

State Sen. Tom McClintock, a fierce critic of government spending, has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax-free per diem payments from the state that are meant to help legislators who, unlike McClintock, live far from the capital.

The Republican lawmaker said he is entitled to the $170-a-day payments because his legal residence is a family home in his Senate district of Thousand Oaks, where he is registered to vote.

McClintock and his family live year-round in Elk Grove, 14 miles from the state Capitol. He moved to the Sacramento suburb in 1996, when he was elected to the state Assembly, and he bought a five-bedroom, 4,090-square-foot home in 2004. His children attend Elk Grove schools and his wife works at a Baptist church there.

The intent of the payments is to help defray the living costs of lawmakers attending the eight-month legislative session far from their homes.

Legal experts say McClintock is taking advantage of a loophole that gives him a right to the tax-free payments even though he lives near the Capitol.

"This certainly strikes me as an example of the abuse of the per diem system," said Derek Cressman, government watchdog director for California Common Cause.

Honestly, this is going to KILL McClintock. His entire rationale is as a critic of government spending. For him to show hypocrisy on this issue undermines his entire argument. Nobody is more at risk on something like this than he is. Not to mention the fact that this kind of looks like he's been carpetbagging in his own district all along, when in fact he's a creature of the capital.

We're talking about $306,000 in TAX-FREE per diem money over the last eight years, on top of his $116,000 annual salary. Whaddya know - Tom McClintock is a welfare recipient. Charlie Brown's campaign wasted no time capitalizing on this.

"For 30 years, Tom McClintock has railed against government spending while living well at taxpayer expense," said Todd Stenhouse, a spokesman for Democratic congressional candidate Charlie Brown, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel.

McClintock's spin, that he's "entitled" to the money to help defray the cost of a second home, isn't going to fly. Tom McClintock arguing for an entitlement?


UPDATE: Meanwhile, Charlie Brown is getting great press in the district, just this week presenting $17,500 in donation money to nonprofit groups servicing veterans. Quite a contrast.

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