After the Cedar Rapids Gazette disclosed this weekend that Rep. Thomas J. Tauke (R-Iowa) has been keeping a congressional pay raise he opposed last year and promised not to accept, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) wasted no time in trying to make this an issue against his GOP challenger.
"More than a year-and-a-half ago, Tom Tauke promised that he would not accept a congressional pay raise," a Harkin campaign statement said yesterday. "However, it has just been revealed that, for all the talk he gave to stopping the pay raise, Tauke has kept the money. In contrast to Tauke's practice of saying one thing on congressional pay, Sen. Harkin has consistently spoken out in opposition to the pay hikes, and is returning the current pay raise to the federal treasury."
The news release offered more than a half dozen examples of Tauke's public statements opposing the raise.
Tauke said during the November 1989 debate on the pay increase that he could not vote for it because some of the raise would go into effect before this year's midterm elections. He also cited the budget deficit and threats to "vital social programs and thousands of jobs" as reasons for his opposition.
In addition, Tauke said he would not accept the House's 7.9 percent pay boost, which amounts to $7,100 this year. Harkin, who like Tauke voted against the increase, writes a check each month to the Treasury for $381.47, which represents the difference between his 1989 monthly salary and his current paycheck.
Tauke spokesman Allen Finch told Iowa newspapers this weekend that Tauke did not break his promise in taking the extra money because it represents a "previously denied cost-of-living increase," not a pay raise.
However, Finch reversed himself yesterday and said that Tauke never intended to keep any of the money and that "by the end of this year, he will have given the pay raise and all honoraria to charity," keeping a written pledge he made in January.
Last week, Tauke announced he is cosponsoring legislation that would repeal a 25 percent pay raise scheduled to go into effect in January.