By Alex Curtas of ProgressNowNewMexico.
[Pay up Representative Pearce.]
New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce (R-NM2), recently named one of Congress’ richest members, has used his taxpayer-funded office accounts at least 30 times to reimburse himself for meals and other food and beverages while also voting to cut millions in food stamp aid for his constituents who live in one of the poorest districts in the country.
The Wall Street Journal described describes New Mexico’s lone Tea Party congressman as “a fiscal conservative who has made cutting wasteful government spending a hallmark of his tenure in the House.” Pearce previously told government workers they would have to do more with less and “get more efficient” to cope with federal budget cuts he supports. Last week, Pearce voted to cut $39 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, from the Farm Bill during a vote last week.
New Mexico leads the country in children living with hunger and nearly 1-in-4 of Pearce’s constituents live in poverty according to 2010 Census numbers. SNAP cuts supported by Pearce are estimated by the USDA to cost 37,106 households – 61% including children under the age of 18 – who make an average of just $16,959 per year.
PROGRESSNOW NM, a non-profit public advocacy group opposing the cuts launched a public “refund” campaign Monday morning. The campaign includes an email and invoice constituents can send to the congressman demanding he reimburse taxpayers for his personal subsidized meal program.
“Even though he voted to slash SNAP help for tens-of-thousands of families who are actually poor and actually hungry, Congressman Steve Pearce – one of the richest millionaires in congress – is gaily spending taxpayer dollars to fund his own personal supplemental nutritional assistance program, otherwise known as lunch,” says Patrick Davis, Executive Director of PROGRESSNOWNM.
A review of Pearce’s office spending reports identified more than 30 times Pearce has authorized reimbursement for his meals, sometimes for as little as $2, others as much as $170.
PROGRESSNOWNM launched a similar campaign in July after it was revealed that Pearce spent $20,000 in taxpayer funds on a single plane ticket for himself. A local newspaper found similar tickets for as little as $2,000. Pearce said then that he would not reimburse taxpayers for the expense.
“The message to taxpayers from Congressman Pearce seems to be: Pay your taxes, it’s almost lunchtime and I’m hungry,” adds Davis.
A list of reimbursed office expenditures is available online here. Records are available online from the Chief Administrative Office of the House, Statement of Disbursements.
Alex Curtas (505) 312 5402, Alex@ProgressNowNM.org
or Pat Davis (505) 750-0012,