About Alcee Hastings’ $24,730 Lexus lease….by George Bennett | June 1st, 2009
U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, is defending his use of $24,730 in taxpayer money last year to lease a 2008 Lexus hybrid sedan.
As noted over the weekend, U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, was the first example cited by The Wall Street Journal in an article about legal but “eye-catching” expenses that members of Congress have passed on to taxpayers.
“The lease of the vehicle in question has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives,” Hastings’ chief of staff, Lale Mamaux, said in an e-mail Monday.
“It is an energy-efficient vehicle that the congressman feels safe driving throughout his district, which … encompasses Palm Beach, Broward, Hendry, Martin and St. Lucie counties,” Mamaux said. “He believes that the overall cost of the vehicle will decrease as he plans to keep it over the next six years for official business.”
Mamaux didn’t respond to a follow-up request for more detailed information about the lease, so it was unclear what period was covered by the $24,730.
Because they serve two-year terms, House members cannot enter into lease agreements of longer than two years, said Jeff Ventura, a spokesman for the House chief administrator’s office, which approves members’ spending.
A two-year lease on a Lexus GS 450h might cost $1,000 to $1,300 a month, one South Florida dealer said.
House members get annual allowances of about $1.3 million apiece to pay staff salaries and travel costs and purchase office supplies and equipment. About 100 lawmakers use a portion of their allowances to lease vehicles for official use, the Journal reported.
Former U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney, D-Palm Beach Gardens, who was defeated in his 2008 reelection bid, also was mentioned in the Journal story for spending $11,000 to cover 13 trips during a two-month period last year.