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Taxpayer Funded Barbers, Office Makeovers and Beauty Salons: Webster’s Real Record of Wasteful Spending

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Congressman Dan Webster staged a pretty photo-op today, but the real picture about Webster’s record of wasteful spending isn’t so nice. Congressman Webster has taken thousands of tax dollars out of the pockets of middle class Floridians and spent it on a list of extravagant perks in Tallahassee and Washington that would make Donald Trump blush – wasting 100,000 of his constituent’s tax dollars to redesign his office, including $30,000 to install a spiral staircase. Even worse, Webster opposed reigning in reckless congressional spending and supporting using Orlando area resident’s tax dollars to pay for his gym, barber, dining room and beauty salon.

 

“It’s no surprise that Congressman Dan Webster feels at home next to a giant check – he’s taken thousands and thousands of tax dollars out of the pockets of middle class families, voted against cutting his office budget and wasted our money on everything from his barber to his beauty salon – after charging tax payers $100,000 to redecorate his office in Tallahassee,” said Brannon Jordan, spokeswoman for the Florida Democratic Party.  "Given Congressman Webster’s record of wasteful spending, it’s become impossible for Orlando area residents to trust Webster with our nation’s fiscal future – especially when we’ve paid the bill for Webster’s haircuts in Congress and his office makeover in Tallahassee.”

 

BACKGROUND:

 

Webster Earmarked $100,000 for Office Renovations, Including $30,000 Spiral Staircase. “There may be among those taxpayers a churlish few who would begrudge the speaker a $30,000 spiral staircase down which he can traipse merrily to the third-floor majority office. But if so, he’s ready for them. The $30,000 is included in the $100,000 that speaker Daniel Webster, R-Orlando, has earmarked for remodeling of the House offices, explains Webster, whereas previous speaker Peter Wallace, D-St. Petersburg, spent $2 million for renovations during his term [...] God forbid that either of them had moved into whatever office was provided, sat down on whatever chair happened to be in front of the desk and applied themselves to the job they are being paid to do. That, unfortunately, is only good enough for those who are picking up the tab.” [Sun-Sentinel, 2/26/97]

 

As Part of Office Renovations, Webster Set Up a “Special Office” for Lobbyists. “Former House Speaker Dan Webster, R-Orlando, now a senator, set up a special office in his Capitol suite for lobbyists who used to be House leaders, complete with TV and telephones. Current House Speaker John Thrasher, R-Jacksonville, halted the practice a year ago after he took over from Webster, converting the lounge to a staff office.” [Tampa Tribune, 3/01/00]

 

Webster Voted Against Cutting Funding for Member Gym, Beauty Salon, Barber Shop, and House Dining Room.  In 2012, Webster voted against a Democratic budget proposal that would task the Committee on House administration with identifying ways to cut subsidies paid to the House gym, barber shop, salon and the House dining room. [HCR 112, Vote #150, 3/29/12]

 

Webster Voted Against Cutting His Office Budget.  In June 2012, Webster voted against a motion to reduce by $3.1 million the amount provided for salaries and expenses for the House of Representatives. It would have also cut $3.1 million from the amount provided to Members’ representational allowances, including clerk hire, official expenses and official mail. [HR 5882, Vote #376, 6/08/12]

 

As House Speaker, Webster Had Earmark Wish List That He Tried to Conceal. “At every opportunity, House Speaker Dan Webster says he is different from predecessors who used their power to dictate policy [...] But when it comes to sticking his pet spending projects in the budget this year, Webster is little different than his predecessors, who used their power to bring home the bacon for their home districts. Quietly, Webster has asked senior lawmakers to fund projects in the Orlando area. The projects would cost taxpayers more than $120 million [...] He first denied that he was seeking any pet projects in the budget, and he failed to provide his project list when it was sought under a public records request. A list of his projects was found in a House budget file.” [The Miami Herald, 3/25/98]

 

Webster Defended Budget “Full of Pork.”“As Republican leaders quietly crafted a plan to spend taxpayers’ money last week, they assured the public they would hold the line on pet projects. But the $45.3- billion budget is full of pork- including money to market jellyfish as food, expand several farmers markets, advertise a tomato festival and help the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Republican leaders in the House defended the member projects that made it into the budget. Asked whether the pork feast went against his goal of cutting taxes and returning money to average Floridians, House Speaker Daniel Webster said the tax cuts would at least equal the pet projects [...] ‘The people who put these (projects) in will have to defend them,’ Webster said.” [St. Petersburg Times, 4/21/98]

 

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