This Seems Fishy — Colorado State Sen. John Morse Claimed Over $40,000 In Per Diems And Reimbursements In 2009

The Colorado Accountability Project reports that Colorado Sen. John Morse (D – Colo. Springs) claimed over $40,000 in per diems and reimbursements, paid tax free, in 2009.  His taxable salary as a part-time state legislator is less than that, at $30,000.

The whole report is here.  An excerpt:

Morse claimed a full 120 days during the legislative session then claimed an additional 211 days, or nearly $21,000, after the end of the session. The majority of those days were labeled as “constituent work” on the reimbursement request; such “constituent work” was not supported by Sen. Morse’s calendars. In fact, days where reimbursements were requested the calendar entries reflected haircuts, dentist appointments and packing and moving.

Personally, I think a fair number of our elected officials are under-paid.  Our new Secretary of State, Scott Gessler (R), was recently castigated (including by me) for suggesting that he would continue to work part-time for his old law firm to augment his modest $68,000/year salary.  Although that incident certainly should have been handled better, he has a valid point. 

Colorado’s top elected officials must get paid better if we are going to attract the best candidates.  Otherwise, you greatly limit the field, and many successful people without personal fortunes will have to choose between their family’s financial well-being and running for office.  Hell, Gessler’s unelected chief administrative officer will get paid $120,000 a year, nearly twice what his boss is making.

But you have to live within the system you got yourself elected into.  Gessler ran for a position that pays $68,000, so he has to accept that unless and until it changes.  Likewise, being a Colorado legislator is not supposed to be a full time gig, and Morse took on a part-time job that pays $30,000/year.  He cannot look to “per diems” to meet his household budget.  Collecting far more in per diems than his salary certainly suggests that he is doing just that, and warrants an investigation.

The Denver Post led the charge on Gessler.  But so far, I cannot find any reference to this potential scandal on its website.   Where are you, Post?

Via Colorado Peak Politics and Complete Colorado.

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Published in: on March 3, 2011 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

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