On Oct. 12, The Washington Post reported that Rep. John Brademas (D-Ind.) was "one of many members (of Congress) who often" use official allowances to buy flowers for constitutents. Records show that Brademas has used official allowances to buy flowers on only one occasion.
In the first six months of this year, various members of Congress used tax funds to pay American Bar Association dues, purchase liquor for receptions, buy flowers, concert tickets, automobile insurance, throw office parties and, in one case, rent someone a tuxedo.
The latest report of the Clerk of the House, released yesterday, discloses these expenditures and others in the first public accounting of a $2,000-a-year fund that members have received for years to cover "official expenses outside the District of Columbia."
Public accounting for the fund was one of the revisions pushed last January by the House Commission on Administrative Review, headed by Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.).
Today the House is to take up another set of Obey commission recommendations. These deal in part with appointment of an administrator to manage operation of the House and auditor to oversee accounts. There are also controversial proposals to set up a nondiscrimination procedure for hiring House employees and give a new $12,000-a-year comuter allowance to members.
The House Republican Policy Committee yesterday said the clerk's report "raises serious questions" on the use of present House allowances, and suggested that they were reason enough to vote against the new set of Obey proposals.
Obey said yesterday that the material in the clerk's report "doesn't have a damn thing to do with what we are doing" on the House floor today.
He said, however, "undoubtedly some (expenditures) seem inappropriate . . . out of a combination of carelessness or mistakes" by members. "See VOUCHERS, A4, Col. 4>
Obey said he doesn't think the public can understand the expense demands placed on members of Congress and that publishing how the allowance is used will help.
Under already-approved Obey proposals, the $2,000 office allowance now being criticized will increased to $7,000 next year.
Because the House has expanded its allowances of federal money to meet members' needs, the Internal Revenue Service last spring told members of Congress that they no longer will be able to take business deductions on their income tax returns for many personal payments deducted in the past.
In 248 pages in the clerk's report, the members disclosed they used their allowances primarily for travel in their districts, newspaper and magazine subscriptions and running their home offices. Dozens, however, put in for reimbursement of meals in Washington at the House restaurant and other eating places around town.
Rep. Charles E. Wiggins (R-Calif.) in for his Orange County Bar Association dues ($40), his American Bar Association dues ($100), his Yorba Linda Country Club assessment ($18) and Orange Republican Women's Club dues ($5).
A Wiggins aide yesterday said the congressman was faced with the problem "whether these were business eexpenses for him . . . or political expenses.They were not personal."
IRS, the aide said, had told the members, "If you don't take it as a business expense, then you can't take it off your taxes."
Wiggins also was reimbursed for $200.27 paid out for the "staff Christmas party," while Rep. Jerome A. Ambro (D-N.Y.) paid $94.95 to a Washington liquor dealer for "supplies for inaugural reception for constituents."
Rep. John Brademas (D-Ind.), the House majority whip, was one of many members who often purchased flowers with their allowances. His were for constituents in the hospital, the report said.
Rep. Joseph M. McDade (R-Pa.) used $10 for tickets to a Harry James concert in March and a blind artists' concert ($96.11) in May.
Rep. Donald J. Pease (D-Ohio) used $251 to pay for auto insurance coverage on "district cars," and Rep. Henry S. Reuss (D-Wis.) used $950 to decorate his "Minnie Winnie' Winnebago that served as a mobile office during the summer.
The Tuxedo was rented by Rep. Richard L. Ottiger (D-N.Y.). As of late yesterday, his staff could not determine the circumstances surrounding the payment.