Nancy Pelosi’s Allowance Is Better Than Yours


From the Hill…

Remember when you were a kid, and mom and dad would give you a few bucks each week for mowing the lawn, cleaning your room, doing the dishes and taking out the trash? And if you took on more responsibility, you’d ask the parentals for a raise, because baseball cards and toys are expensive. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has taken that concept a little too far.

She recently moved into a new district office located in the San Francisco Federal Building. It’s in a trendy neighborhood, has a great view and costs a little more than the old office space. How much more, you ask? Pelosi’s paying $18,736 each month to type, make calls and talk around the water cooler in the new digs. That’s right. I’m going to type that again because it bears repeating, and because – if you’re like me – upon hearing the price Speaker Pelosi is paying to go to work, you picked up a calculator and a pencil, and just shoved them in your eyes. $18,736. For renting an office.

All sorts of reasons were cited for the move: she’d been in the old place for twenty years; the new office’s location is more accessible for her constituents (public transportation and walking being so unruly and all); she needed more space (why? Because the monthly office pool is an actual pool?). Also the new office is in a “green” building. This is one of those moments when the word green means just so many things, isn’t it?

But rent is getting higher all the time, and San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the country. So maybe this is just a harsh realty reality. The thing is, Pelosi’s new office rent is four times what she was paying for the old one – which is also located in San Francisco. Also, her rent is almost double what anyone else in Congress is paying. Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., whose office is in Los Angeles, is getting it for a steal: only $9,055 a month! And Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-FLA., pays only $1,353 a month for an office owned by the University of Central Florida in Orlando and another $100 for a small office provided by the City of Port Orange.

So how’s Pelosi paying for her pad? Each member has a Representational Allowance at his or her disposal, to cover the cost of rent, transportation and supplies and materials associated with the position. Another good use for this allowance is the cost of communication with constituents, like town hall meetings. She’s paying for this space with an allowance. That’s a lot of dishes she must have washed! What’d she do, offer to mow the lawn at the National Mall?

Here’s a map of all the LEED-certified buildings in San Francisco. Something tells me Speaker Pelosi could have found an office that was just as green, for a little less green.

Image: Speaker Pelosi

Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in Christopher Correa’s weekly column, Hill/Street Greens, examining the environmental deeds (and misdeeds) of Washington, D.C. and Wall Street.