Seven Degrees from Normal

Two people, eighteen years of marriage, seven college degrees.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Work-related income is for losers

You know, my family could be exactly the kind of good, conservative, stay-at-home-mom kind of family Rick Santorum extols, if we had our own personal slush fund:

“In far too many families with young children, both parents are working, when, if they really took an honest look at the budget, they might find they don’t both need to.”

-- U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, in his 2005 book, It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good

The Santorums bought their oversized Shenstone “estate” even though his financial disclosure forms since 2001 have shown little family income beyond his Senate salary, now $162,100, and he admits that life hasn’t been financially easy. The senator made a startling remark to The New York Times Magazine last spring: “We live paycheck to paycheck, absolutely.” But he explained that his parents help out. “They’re by no means wealthy -- they’re two retired VA [Veterans Administration] employees -- but they’ll send a check every now and then,” he said.

The Prospect decided to heed Santorum’s advice by taking “an honest look at the family budget” -- his family budget. What we found is that Santorum’s exurban lifestyle is financed in ways that aren’t available to the average voter back home in Pennsylvania -- namely a political action committee that lists payments for such unorthodox items as dozens of trips to the Starbucks in Leesburg, a number of stops at fast-food joints, and purchases at Target, Wal-Mart, and a Giant supermarket in northern Virginia. Although a Santorum aide defends those charges as legitimate political costs, good-government experts say the expenditures are at best unconventional, and at worst a possible violation of Senate rules, and the purchases appear to be unorthodox when compared with other senators’ filings. Santorum’s PAC -- a “leadership PAC,” whose purpose is to dispense money to other Republican candidates -- used just 18.1 percent of its money to that end over a recent five-year period, a lower number than other leadership PACs of top senators from both parties.

The rest of the piece in Tapped only gets better. Or worse, depending on how jaded you are.

Apparently Santorum also siphons funds off of a non-registered charity he runs.


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