Bonus Time for AZ Congressional Staffers

Well, as always it’s party time for Congress, and the party never stops.

PHOENIX — While dealing with the “greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression”, seven Arizona congressional representatives handed out around $300,000 in staff bonuses in late 2008.

  • Former Republican Rep. Rick Renzi, who had already been indicted on fraud charges and was serving the final days of his term, was the most generous, splitting $136,000 among 12 staff members.
  • Among House members still in office, Rep. Raúl Grijalva, a Democrat, was tops, distributing $52,000 to 16 employees.
  • Republican Jeff Flake, who gave $36,000 to 13 employees
  • Democrat Harry Mitchell gave $38,000 to 10 employees.
  • Republican Rep. Trent Franks gave $22,000 to nine employees.
  • Republican John Shadegg gave $24,000 to nine employees.
  • Democrat Ed Pastor gave $13,500 to nine employees.
  • Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick took office in 2009, replacing Renzi. An e-mailed statement from chief of staff Michael Frias said Kirkpatrick likely would award bonuses for 2009, though a final decision hadn’t been made as of November.

But it’s not just about the bonuses. It’s about the overall staff sizes of those who “represent” us. Here’s the current breakdown for the AZ Representatives through 9/30/09.

D1 – Ann Kirkpatrick (D) $469,372
D2 – Trent Franks ® $727,127
D3 – John Shadegg ® $790,536
D4 – Ed Pastor (D) $607,993
D5 – Harry Mitchell (D) $654,128
D6 – Jeff Flake ® $728,819
D7 – Raul Grijalva (D) $808,687
D8 – Gabrielle Giffords (D) $761,579


That adds up to $5.5 million ANNUALLY.  Don’t know about you, but whenever I call my congressman’s office to get an answer regarding legislation, I can NEVER get a atrraight answer.  Just the usual ‘I can pass your message along to the congressman”.   That’s a lot of money for staffers who do nothing but act as answering machines and email spammers. So the next time your congressman tells you he’s down with the struggle of the American people or he feels the pain and challenges of “folks at the grass-roots” level, remember they are still doling out tax-dollar bonus money for their “peeps”. Nice work if you can get.


  1. I’m going to defend congressional staffers. I was one once. The general public has no idea how difficult constituent work is and how little, comparitively, congressional staff are paid. The people who work for Congress are not there for the money, they are passionate about issues, politics, and lost causes. The overall volume of work is unbelievable. The bonus is well-earned.

  2. Of course staffers work hard, but people who work as hard and harder and who are taxed to pay for these bonuses are going OUT of work.

    No one else is getting bonuses, and a huge number of people are actually accepting a REDUCTION in pay rather than lose their jobs – rising underemployment to go along with rising unemployment.

  3. I am going to assume the total amount of the 2008 bonuses was decided in 2007 when budgets were decided, and later in 2008 it was merely decided who got what within each office. It’s fine to oppose the bonuses, but it’s something you should have brought up in 2007.

    Keep in mind that $5.5 million annual amount, compared to the state population of 6.5 million, comes to less than a dollar per constituent, per year. Is that not a bargain? And if you want better service than that dollar will get you for your share of the office’s budget, you ought to be advocating higher budgets, not lower.

  4. I think the staffers are paid bonuses out of unused office funds. I believe they are encouraged to economize during the year as an incentive to get a larger bonus. Essentially, the entire staff gets a budget including salaries and office expenses which they need to manage throughout the year.

    I think it is a good idea to reward them for getting their jobs done more efficiently.

    To lower costs, the overall budgets for each Representative’s office expense should be lowered. That will probably also lower bonuses, but, if the staff can keep improving efficiency, might not lower bonuses very much.

  5. It should be noted, because papatodd won’t, that Rep. Giffords did not award bonuses for this time period.

  6. Political staffers do not produce WEALTH. Their pay is dependent on taxes OFF wealth.
    If WEALTH is DECREASING due to a recession, teetering on depression, how is there ANY justification to pay out bonuses?
    ESPECIALLY if the bosses are the folks RESPONSIBLE for the recession?

    Wells Fargo was harrassed and pilloried into not feting its SALES force in a long-standing Vegas event that they EARNED by bringing in more business, but oh, staffers work so hard and should get rewarded because they really are underpaid. By whom? Their bosses write the salary scale. Snarling all the time at business for not paying “proper” wages while underpaying their own staffs? So, a double standard!

    Wake up! We’re in the eye of the hurricane, and that strange dark grey mass on the horizon is the approaching wall. No one’s buying, houses are sitting unsold, losing market value by the day – the Middle Class’s No. 1 Asset – 10% unemployment and RISING and not a surviving businesses at this moment has any CLUE as to what business decisions to make with nothing but promises of TAX TAX TAX TAX TAX TAX TAX ahead, so they are cutting back and trying to figure out how to survive the unknown.

    Gov’t employees and staffers think they’re immune? No jobs – no tax receipts – no budget funding. How politically sensitive does that seem in a time of recession to be handing out other people’s hard-earned money to politicians’ staffs?

  7. Carol, understand your monies come from other peoples hard work. You will find no sympathy here. Get a real job and volunteer your time if you’re so passionate about your issues. NATIONAL STRIKE on Jan 20 2010. Don’t buy anything, don’t sell anything. I understand it’s a sacrifice but if we don’t turn back the tide of communism peacefully, much worse will come.

  8. “NATIONAL STRIKE on Jan 20 2010”

    You know, we liberals are getting sick and tired of carrying the load, working and paying taxes so you conservatives can cash your Social Security and unemployment checks so you conservatives can go to your rallies and take your days off.


  9. The Klute Says:
    December 22nd, 2009 at 8:09 pm
    Do you really want to be that vulgar? No “tolerance” or “culturally sensitive?”

  10. wanumba,

    Awww. Can I get you a tissue?

    But no, conservatives have taught me well – there is no epithet to vile, no moral sewer to awful to swim in that is out of bounds these days.

    Why, just in the last 2 weeks, a Republican Senator Tom Coburn asked the American people to pray for the death of a Democratic Senator, and Laura Ingraham rewrote Martin Neimoller’s Holocaust poem to make a cheap political shot.

    Teabagger it is. And still – get a job.

  11. Klute,
    Sen Coburn asked God to keep someone from voting. That doesn’t mean die. Get real.

  12. “Sen Coburn asked God to keep someone from voting. That doesn’t mean die. Get real.”

    I’d like to hear that from Senator Coburn himself, because frankly, there is no depth the GOP hasn’t sunk to in this debate.

    And while I’ll pretty certain this is a joke, it’s possible one Teabagger from Waycross, GA thought that’s what Senator Coburn told him to do:

    And Sen. Coburn has been conspicuously silent on this since Sen. Durbin asked him to clarify.

  13. People People Chill out here! Spending the whole day posting and yelling at each other is EXACTLY what ALL of these corrupt-o-crats want us to be doing. They are wuite content to do whatever the hell they want while we argue amongst ourselves. we are no the problem, THEY ARE THE PROBLEM. So instead of getting into the blame/name-calling game, why not pick up the phone and call your rep and telling then that [during these dark days] paying out bonus money is simply not acceptable. If you’re not yelling at them, nothing will change. Dem or Rep is NOT the issue here. RIGHT OR WRONG should be the issue. When we sink down to the name-calling within a couple of comments, the issue is lost. Or is everybody cool with the big bonuses? Hold your congressman accountable, damnit!

  14. The Klute Says:
    December 22nd, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Awww. Can I get you a tissue?
    Teabagger it is. And still – get a job.
    Never bring a tissue when a fire hose is required. Madam seems quite comfortable hip-deep in the ooze of derogratory sexual put-downs against her fellow citizens who are simply exercising their Constitutional rights, and doesn’t notice the stench.

    Name-calling is warning sign No 1 that the debater has lost the debate.
    Stay classy!

  15. papatodd Says:
    December 23rd, 2009 at 8:47 am
    everybody cool with the big bonuses? Hold your congressman accountable, damnit!
    Excellent advice.

  16. wanumba,

    “Madam”? “Her”?

    You’ve simply got to stop fetishizing me that way. Creepy.

  17. Just testing. You obliged. Off to non-work since we’re not here to tit for tat egos, but to focus on the issues. It’s warning sign No. 2 that one has lost the debate when the debater wastes everyone’s time denigrating the debater, not sticking to the issues.

    The issue is politicians who are evidently underpaying and overworking their staffs who then need bonuses to make up for their underpaid efforts, using money extracted from productive businesses and inidviduals and families who are struggling in a recession, with a genuine danger of a full depression ahead.

    Obviously, the brutal reality of the seriousness of the current economic situation hasn’t hit home yet in politicians’ offices.

    The AX, not the TAX.

  18. This is one more example of a ludicrous post based on year old stuff intended to do nothing but rile folks up.

    How convenient to paint the picture limiting the duties of staffers to simply answering the phone. To give them anymore credit would simply destroy the premise of your argument. How about the time spent doing research, dealing with constituent issues, reading every draft of every bill, attending the large number of committee meetings and keeping the ball moving?

    The spending is pretty well balanced between D & R. I’m not saying there isn’t savings to be had, but I have been in plenty of staff offices that were really a closet, where they share a table for a desk, and use boxes for file cabinets.

    Please…stop this inane nonsense! We have real battles to fight and this sort of garbage is nothing more than a distraction from the real work to be done.

    • Ann,

      I have to agree with you in part. These were 2008 figures which was well before we knew how bad the recession was. I am surprised that the mainstream media decided to originally post the article (that gave rise to this post.) (No offense to our blogger here.)

      Yes, let’s go after the liberals and make sure our house is clean before we do such.

  19. wanumba,

    “Just testing. You obliged.”

    Is this some of that “Christian’s aren’t perfect, just forgiven” rhetoric that allows you to wallow in the moral sewer?

    “The issue is politicians who are evidently underpaying and overworking their staffs…”

    Actually, I was replying to Ashen, who mentioned this strike (and how it would be nice if conservatives were out there looking for jobs rather than living off the dole to go and protest), and you got all offended by my language, and proceeded to try to provoke me further.

    But this comment:

    “The issue is politicians who are evidently underpaying and overworking their staffs who then need bonuses to make up for their underpaid efforts, using money extracted from productive businesses and inidviduals and families who are struggling in a recession, with a genuine danger of a full depression ahead.”

    That’s gotta be the most circular statement I’ve read today.

    1. Politicans are working for the country.
    2. Politicians require their staff to do the work.
    3. Staff is overworked, underpaid.
    4. Bonuses are required to provide adequate recompense because of #3.
    5. This would create equity in work/pay.
    6. This is bad because bonuses are paid by the taxpayer.
    7. Which creates a burden on the taxpayer, which exacerbates the problems.
    8. Which are trying to be fixed by the politican in step 1.

    For the record, I don’t care if politicians pay bonuses – being a staff member in DC can be one of the hardest jobs. I’ve got no problem in the extra $0.10 of my tax bill (or whatever miniscule amount goes to that) going to pay someone’s meal of Top Ramen and RC Cola.

    I’m more concerned about things like the giant Iraq-shaped toilet we’re flushing money down.

  20. You mean Afghanistan? IMHO, that country seems to be shaped more like a kidney that dropped on the operating room floor.

  21. It’d be nice to see some comprehension of geopolitical issues before people start sniffing dismissively about Iraq and Afghanistan. The quality of the analysis sounds like it’s some computer game that got boring, not a geopolitically strategic engagement to contain a vicious, anti-civilizational movement.

    HOW can Americans pretend that what happens in AFghanistan will have NOTHING to do with our little bubble lives when we all know that Bin Laden orchastrated the 9/11 attacks from his safe haven in that country? He’s on video bragging about it.

    BOTH India and Pakistan have told the USA to stay the course! Not often those two nations agree on ANYTHING, but the danger is that extreme.

    America in 1780 sent US Naval ships to the North AFrican Barbary Coast sultanates to pound the Muslim despots for pirating AMerican merchant ships and holding AMericans hostages as slaves. It was harder and took longer than today to deal with this, but Americans did it and understood why it was important to take the fight to the SOURCE. America broke the back of 300 years of Muslim piracy and tribute demands in the Mediterranean. Everyone benefitted from that resolve and effort.

    The nation-building taking too long? Modern American attention spans can’t handle over 5 minutes? Germany needed 50 years, with a violent insurgency of leftover NAZIs who had to be defeated, and still can’t protect itself against a Russian invasion, so we stay, and no one says it wasn’t worth it.

    Worse, where is the discipline and seriousness to RESEARCH the region to get up to speed on what’s going on to make an INFORMED decision? Lazy, empty, can’t be bothered. WE’ve had troops in Afghanistan for years and most Americans still don’t even know the name of the capital. “Whatever!”
    What a travesty!

  22. Well written Mr. Wanumba!
    If you read between the lines, the greatest threat to the world [and America] is not the Taliban in Afghanistan, but the fragility of the situation in Pakistan [ a nation with nukes] Pakistan’s fragility [i.e. vulnerabillty] presents the greatest opportunity to the terrorists. If Pakistan’s government falls or even teeters enough, the terrorists could gain control of a nuke. then the fun [not] really begins. Left-leaning whining will not be much of a defense shield.

  23. I love watching people who have no idea what they are talking about speculating about how congressional staffers are paid. Taking into account the obnoxious morons who call congressional offices every day, (many of whom are also commenting on this article) these people are significantly underpaid.

    Looking at that list, Harry Mitchell runs a 10+ person office for $600,000. I gaurentee your office isn’t nearly that efficient.

    You’re all morons. Really. Get over yourselves.

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