Big spenders were separated from the thrifty among House members yesterday, as for the first time a just-issued House report revealed expense account totals for individual House members.
Winner of the "big spender" award was Rep. Michael Harrington (D-Mass.), whose three-month official expense account total came to $31,029.18. Harrington spent $7,342.15 on telephone bills alone and $8,478.13 for such items as coffee, subscriptions, computer use and television tapings.
The "skinflint" of the House was its Rules Committee chairman, Rep. James Delaney (D-N.Y.) who spent a mere $2,554.67. Delaney, who regularly wins elections with over 90 percent of the vote, spent the most money - S894 - to lease office equipment.
Other "big spenders" were largely from California and Hawaii, where the high cost of traveling back and forth between their districts and Washington tended to run up the bill. Rep. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), for instance, spent $26,769.47 and Rep. Leon E. Panetta (D-Calif.) spent $26,973.70 in the three-month period.
Low spenders tended to come from the Middle West or East Coast where travel to and from districts was less costly. Besides Delaney, those turning in a low expense account were Reps. William H. Natcher (D-Ky.), $3,256.10, Rep. Clement J. Zablocki (D-Wis.), $4,164.01, Rep. Otis Pike (D-N.Y.), $4,627.12 and Rep. Lucien N. Nedzi (D-Mich.), $4,632.
Yesterday's "Report of the Clerk of the House" was only the second time that members accounted in some detail for their official expenses. But for the first accounting, in October, the the expenses under each member's computers were not set up to group name and add up the total.
The new, more detailed accounting was one of the revisions pushed through over a year ago by a commission headed by Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.). Obey was charged with cleaning up House accounting and reporting procedures in wake of the scandal that swirled around former Rep. Wayne Hays (D-Ohio) when it was revealed that he had put his mistress on the payroll.
The first expense account report, released in October, showed members writing off such things as bar association dues, liquor for receptions, flowers for funerals, and, in one case, a tuxedo.
In December, the House Administration Committee put out regulations ending some of those practices, but they were too late to affect yesterday's report, which covered the period from July 1 to Sept. 30 of last year.
Yesterday's report still showed members charging off money spent for dues and flowers.