Watchdog group: House, Senate C-Street members paid below-market rents
A government watchdog group says it has filed ethics complaints against lawmakers who have rented rooms in a controversial Capitol Hill townhouse.
The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – CREW for short – cites news reports that say House members and some senators have paid below-market rents to live in a house on C Street SE that is owned by a Christian prayer group known as the Fellowship. CREW wants the House and Senate ethics committees to determine whether the monthly rent, reported to be around $950, is below the market value. If so, CREW says, the discount could amount to an illegal gift.
A spokesman for one resident of the house named in CREW’s complaint, Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, said the rent covers a furnished room and shared bathroom. It does not include meals, housekeeping in his room or parking and is therefore in line with market prices.
Democratic Reps. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania and Bart Stupak of Michigan said they no longer live in the house but that while there, the rent was fairly assessed.
Other lawmakers named in the complaint did not respond to calls for comment. They are: Republican Sens. Sam Brownback of Kansas and John Ensign of Nevada, neither of whom currently live in the house. Also named in the complaint were Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C. and Reps. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.
Earlier this week another group called Clergy VOICE asked the IRS to investigate the tax implications of accepting lodging at the C Street house.