Argall Continues To Abuse Per Diems

Posted by By at 12 April, at 07 : 03 AM Print

RTC Releases Senator’s 2011 Expenses

(Harrisburg, PA) – Rock the Capital has tracked David Argall’s “double-dipping” habits as Minority Whip in the House of Representatives, as a member of the Speaker’s Commission Reform and as an incumbent  Senator.

Eric Epstein cofounder of the Rock the Capital said, “While most legislators who crafted the pay raise have either been defeated or indicted, Mr. Argall continues to reward himself with taxpayer funded per diems.”

Rock the Capital’s recent review of  David Argall’s per diem reimbursements from January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2011 demonstrate that he continues to abuse tax-free “per diems” at an alarming clip.

Mr. Argall resides in Lake Hauto, Schuylkill County which is only 78 miles from the Capitol. He is often able to drive home from the Capitol after a session day or nonvoting business day. Lawmakers who live outside of 50-mile radius of the Capitol are eligible to receive per diems for lodging.

Eric Epstein observed, “Out of Mr. Argall’s 61 reimbursements, only eleven involved an overnight stay.” Mr. Argall normally returned home on per diem days. Epstein added, “On many occasions, Mr. Argall ate for free at the expense of the Senate Republican Caucus, drove home and pocketed the entire per diem.”

Legislators are not required to submit receipts or verification of the actual amount of expenses they incur for food and lodging. If a per diem is taken on a session day or for a committee meeting, taxes are not taken out or paid on the per diem pursuant to IRS rules. If a legislator receives a per diem for a non session day, taxes are taken out.

 Breakdown of Sen. Argall’s Per Diem Reimbursements

• Committee Meeting Per Diems at $157 x 1 =     $   157
• Non-Session Per Diems at $154 x  1=           $    15
• Non-session Per Diems at $157 x 2 =           $   314
• Non- Session Per Diems at $51 x 1  =          $    51
• Session Per Diems at $159 x 7 =               $ 1,113
• Session per diems at  $157 x 50 =             $ 7,850 
Total amount of tax free income: $9,639 - $519= $ 9,128     

 

Epstein observed, “Mr. Argall’s behavior has not changed since the infamous pay rise of 2005. It is up to the voters to hold him accountable.”

 

A History of Per Diem Abuse

 January 19, 2009

Sen. Argall Soaks Taxpayers During the Budget Crisis:

Per Diems from March through September exceed $10,200

 

(Harrisburg, Pa) – RockTheCapital.org’s review of Senate per diem billings during the recent budget fiasco found that Senator David Argall (Berks & Schuylkill) profited handsomely from the budget stalemate. From March through September, 2009, Mr. Argall padded his nontaxable income with 59 per diems equal to $8,437, and an additional 12 days of per diems and expenses valued at $1,764.

Eric Epstein, Coordinator of the RockTheCapital.org stated, “There he goes again. Mr. Argall has a history of abusing per diems. Unfortunately for the taxpayer, there is absolutely no accountability built into the system. It’s obscene to be rewarded for not getting the budget done.”

If a per diem is taken on a session day or for a committee meeting, the income is tax exempt. Taxes are only taken out for per diems collected on non- session days. Legislators are not required to submit receipts or verification of the actual amount of expenses they incur for food and lodging.

“Per diem” income is in addition to a legislators’ base salary. Two senators, Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Franklin) and Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-Chester), have a policy of refusing per diems.

According to Democracy Rising’s review, “over the 22-month period the senator who has collected the most per diems is none other than Sen. John Wozniak (D-Cambria) who collected $37,826. Wozniak is far ahead of his nearest competitor, Sen. Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) who collected $31,153. At the low end of the list among those who have served in the Senate for the full period of the report (the lowest retired from the Senate last year) is Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph B. Scarnati (R-Jefferson) who collected only $8,023.”

How Much Is David G. Argall Worth?

House Reform Committee Member Socks Taxpayers

(Harrisburg, Pa) – State House Minority Whip David Argall’s (R-Schuylkill & Berks Counties) expense records reveal that the incumbent is collecting an exorbitant amount of supplemental, tax-free income in the form of “per diems.” A thorough review of Rep. Argall’s expenses for the period 2005 through 2007 indicates he routinely collected the maximum per diem allowable even as he assumed his duties on the Speaker’s Commission on Legislative Reform.

Eric Epstein, Coordinator of the RockTheCapital.org stated, “Mr. Argall has a history of abusing per diems. Unfortunately for the taxpayer, there is absolutely no accountability built into the system. With all the money spent and all the miles traveled by Mr. Argall, Pennsylvania’s bridges and roads continue to crumble beneath our feet. ”

“Per diems” are extra cash that House and Senate members receive for every day they are in session or attend official meetings more than 50 miles from home. This “per diem” income is in addition to a legislators’ base salary and the money representatives bill for mileage while traveling to Harrisburg.

Mr. Epstein added, “Elected officials are allowed to make a living, but they are not entitled to make a killing. The amount pocketed by Rep. Argall should raise questions from his constituents as to whether or not he is bilking taxpayers.”

 

2007

Mr. Argall’s appetite for “per diems” actually increased in the postpay raise era. Rep. Argall collected a per diem for 149 separate days in 2007, (including Reform Commission meetings), totaling $16,794. Argall’s average per diem was $113. The per diem rate in 2007 rose by 5% and was set at $148.

In 2007, the average resident in Berks County lives on $49.43 per day for rent/ mortgage payments, health care, food, electric, gas, water, and taxes. (Census Bureau)

2005

Mr. Argall collected a “per diem” for 129 separate days in 2005, totaling $15,009 in cash. Argall took the maximum per diem 85% of the time, and his average was $116. The per diem rate for most of 2005 was $129 before climbing to $141.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported the per capita income for Berks County was $21,232, and Schuylkill County recorded a per capita income of $17,230.          

Pay Raise 

Mr. Argall, House Minority Whip,  never returned the illegal pay raise. Argall said he donated all of his unvouchered cash to the United Way (Morning Call, Harrisburg Bureau, November 17, 2005), and he told the Republican Herald that he reported the $7,000 as income and took a deduction on his federal tax for the charitable donation.

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This post was written by:
- who has written 353 posts for Rock The Capital
Eric J. Epstein is RocktheCapital‘s coordinator and a community advocate for good government for over 25 years. Mr. Epstein is also Chairman of the Three Mile Island Alert, Inc., a safe-energy organization founded in 1977; President of EFMR Monitoring Group, Inc., a non-profit economic development corporation established in 1977, and Chairman of the Stray Winds Area Neighbors (SWAN), a smart growth association organized in 2005. Mr. Epstein was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities at PSU-Harrisburg (1992-1999) and co-authored the Dictionary of the Holocaust, which was released by Greenwood Press (1997) - Email Eric Epstein

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