The whole fight about auto and other expenses is turning into a noise machine that washes off just a bit on anybody who serves in public office, but perhaps not on any one person disproportionately.
Still, Pat O’Brien, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, raises a good issue. He discloses all his expense reimbursement in six years as the county/circuit clerk (about $4,800) and challenges his Republican opponent, Mark Martin, to do the same for his legislative draw. Martin is the king of legislative expenses, knocking down $56,290 in 2009 alone on top of his legislative paycheck. It’s an interesting phenomenon. Martin is one of several Republican legislators over the years who seem to exist without visible means of support beyond haunting the halls of the Capitol for per diem, expenses and invitations to dinner with lobbyists. (Martin has an engineering consulting business based in his home.) They still manage to live pretty well — if the restaurants they frequent, the cars they drive and the electronic gear they possess are any measure. Jim Holt, of course, was the template.
Seriously Pat, you’ve got the money for the ads. Start putting that message up on tv ASAP!
And Martin’s comeback? O’Brien’s picking on him because he’s a rural legislator. Yeah, I’m sure rural legislators like David Cook who’ve lived modestly and not dipped into the public trough as frequently as Martin welcome that comparison. And I’m sure rural constituents who work hard and pay their taxes to support Mark Martin’s selfish indulgences appreciate the defense as well.