Departing Congressmen Paid Staff Bonuses Before Leaving

Tennessee’s four outgoing House members paid staffers a total of $210,520 during their final two days in office, joining figures compiled by the wattchdog group LegiStorm and reported by the Tennessean.
Murfreesboro Democrat Bart Gordon, who retired from Congress, gave $83,547 in bonuses to 17 staffers immediately before he retired in January. That put him at No. 8 and the only Tennessee lawmaker ranked in the top 10 among the 93 House members who retired in January or were voted out of office, LegiStorm found.
During the last three months of 2010, when many lawmakers paid yearly bonuses, Gordon’s entire staff payroll went up by just $1,066, LegiStorm data show. Gordon said that’s because he waited until the last possible moment to issue the bonuses that he said made up for the “lowball” salaries he paid earlier in the year.
He learned not to pay too much too soon after his first year in office, when he exceeded his budget and had to pay overages out of pocket, he said.

Lincoln Davis, who lost to Republican Scott DesJarlais in November, paid staffers a total of $62,234 during the first two days of January. The Pall Mall Democrat also spent $30,148 more on salaries in the last three months of 2010 than he spent, on average, during the first three quarters of 2010.
Union City Democrat John Tanner paid $48,959 to staff during the first two days of January. That’s in addition to the $42,456 pay bump he gave during the final quarter of last year.
Zach Wamp, the Chattanooga Republican who ran an unsuccessful bid for governor, paid $15,780 to staff during the first two days of January. That’s on top of the nearly $103,000 pay bump he gave staffers during the final quarter of last year.

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