After Todd Akin lost the Missouri Senate race to Democrat Claire McCaskill in November, he had one final piece of business to take care of as an outgoing member of the House of Representatives — giving piles of government money to his staff. Akin nearly doubled the salaries of his House staffers in the quarter after his defeat, according to the website LegiStorm, which tracks congressional pay.
Only retiring Democrat Gary Ackerman of New York was more generous with public money, barely topping Akin’s 98 percent increase in pay, the website shows. Allen West, a Tea Party favorite from South Florida, was the fourth biggest giver of taxpayer bonuses after he lost reelection to Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.). Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.) was the third most generous, according to LegiStorm.
West and Akin routinely decried wasteful and out-of-control government spending, calling for major cuts to social programs.
Of the top 10 members of Congress most generous with year-end bonuses, nine were Republicans, and 14 of the top 20 were, not coincidentally, on their way out of the House.
Republican Reps. Devin Nunes (Calif.), Steve Austria (Ohio), Steve LaTourette (Ohio), Bob Turner (N.Y.), Roscoe Bartlett (Md.) and Jon Runyan (N.J.) rounded out the top 10 in 2012.
When Democrats lost a historic number of seats in 2010, outgoing members of the party lavished their staff with unspent money, with 18 of the top 20 givers carrying a D next to their name.
House staffers typically get bonuses at the end of the year depending on how much is left in the office budget, but on average in 2012 those bumps were just 16.4 percent for Republicans and 15.1 percent for Democrats. Bonuses are not labeled as such in the congressional books, but LegiStorm is able to count them by comparing the increase in reported salary in the fourth quarter to the average of the first three quarters.