WASHINGTON — Oklahoma's five U.S. House members spent far less than they were allotted last year for their home district and Washington office operations, returning nearly $755,000 to the U.S. Treasury.
Even with a 5 percent cut to their office allowances for 2011, the Oklahomans came in under budget, according to figures released recently by the clerk of the U.S. House. Freshman Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, spent $252,000 less than he was allotted for his Oklahoma and Washington offices, while Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, spent $229,000 less.
Each of the 435 House members receive an official allowance to hire staff, pay rent for their district offices, travel, send mail and buy office equipment and supplies. Personnel budgets are the same for all, but other categories can vary by a district's size and its distance from Washington.
The Oklahomans' allowances average $1.45 million. That does not include the salary of the House member, which is $174,000. House rules require that members personally reimburse any expenses that exceed the office allowances.
The House voted in early 2011 to reduce their office allowances by 5 percent. This year, House members' allowances have been reduced 6.4 percent below the 2011 level.
Here are the 2011 expenses for the Oklahoma members through Dec. 31, 2011, as contained in the report from the U.S. House clerk.
In some cases, there were expenses late in 2011 that were not posted until after Dec. 31, and some members included those expenses when calculating for The Oklahoman how much money they returned to the U.S. Treasury. For instance, Rep. Dan Boren's spending through Dec. 31 showed him $70,000 below budget. But his office included some expenses that weren't reflected in the Dec. 31 clerk's report when calculating Boren's return of $10,964.
Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee
• Total office costs: $1.37 million
• Personnel: $1.14 million
• Travel: $62,343
• Rent/Communication/Utilities: $90,554
• Printing and Reproduction: $4,049
• Supplies and Materials: $12,204