Virginia State Del. Robert E. Harris (R-Fairfax), who drew $1,056 in taxfree, state expense money although he missed the final 24 days of the General Assembly this year, said yesterday he is returning the money to the state treasury.
"This action is consistent with my personal philosphy of constant vigilance in the expenditure of taxpayers' dollars," Harris said in a letter to House Clerk Joseph H. Holleman Jr.
Harris is one of two legislators who continued to receive the $44-a-day payments while missing a major portion of the session. Legislative clerks have said the payments are "mandated" by state law whether or not the legislators attend the sesssions in Richmond.
Sen. Paul W. Manns (D-Caroline), who drew $2,288 in expense payments although he never attended a single session this year because of illness, has said he will await a report of a joint House-Senate rules committee before deciding whether to return his payment.
After disclosure of the payments to Manns and Harris, some legislative leaders said they will ask for the rules committee to recommend whether the payments should continue regardless of the legislator's attendance or to lawmakers from Richmond who live at home during the annual sessions.
Harris suffered a broken leg during the 52-day session and missed the final 24 days in Richmond after undergoing surgery. An executive with Rockwell International in Washington, Harris has accused his political opponents in the Fairfax County Republican Party of questioning his receipt of the expense payment. He said yesterday he has yet to decide if he will seek renomination for a third term in the House in theJune 14 Republican primary.