Rick Saccone (@Saccone4PA18) is the Republican challenger for the seat vacated by Tim Murphy, the Pennsylvania anti-abortion Congressman who resigned after being outed for pressuring his pregnant mistress to get an abortion.
Saccone, a Pennsylvania Tea Party state lawmaker, is a former torture consultant at Abu Ghraib, and has spoken out against funding K-12 education, early childhood education, libraries, child welfare, and other programs.
While he was earning $87,180 plus a $175 per diem during the Pennsylvania legislature's sessions, he billed the taxpayer $425,172 for his personal expenses, including $4,436.30 spent on flags and flagpoles and $117,400 leasing office space from a major campaign donor. He collected his per diem (which is supposed to cover meals) even on days in which he was lavishly fed by lobbyists.
Saccone’s campaign pledges have come under increasing scrutiny as he has moved to run for federal office. Last year, during his aborted Senate bid, Allentown newspaper the Morning Call reported that despite his signature ethics reform bill banning lobbyist-funded meals for lawmakers, Saccone and his wife regularly dined with lobbyists while in Harrisburg, with lobbyists picking up the tab.
Questioned about the behavior, Saccone admitted to the paper that lobbyists routinely buy him breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
“I take part in it. You know how everything in the capitol is done on relationships,” he said. He didn’t want to “be a martyr just by doing it myself,” he added. “That doesn’t change the system.”
But the lobbyist meals have apparently not discouraged Saccone from collecting a hefty taxpayer-funded per diem.
Rick Saccone, Critic of Government Spending, Spends Freely From His Expense Account, Records Show [Lee Fang/The Intercept]
(Image: Tracy Olson, CC-BY-SA)