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Akins hiked staff payments in 2012's final quarter, second highest in House

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 1, 2013 - WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin ranked second-highest among House members in the percentage hike in salaries and bonuses he gave to staff members in the final quarter of last year, a new analysis says.

The fourth-quarter staff payments by Akin, a Republican from Wildwood, increased by more than 98 percent over the average of his staff salaries in last year’s first three quarters. He left the House on Jan. 2 after running unsuccessfully for the seat of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

While the actual bonuses were not huge – in the $10,000 range for key staffers for the final quarter – the analysis by the website LegisStorm found that Akin’s percentage increase in total staff payments was considerably higher than the other lawmakers from the St. Louis region who left Congress in early January:

  • Former U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, a Democrat from St. Louis, hiked his staff payments by nearly 45 percent in the fourth quarter. (He ranked 26>th highest among 433 House members.)
  • Former U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, a Democrat from Belleville, increase his staff payments by about 28 percent. (He ranked 99th highest.)
  • Former U.S Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, a Republican from Cape Girardeau who left Congress in February to take another job, increased her staff payments by about 23 percent in the fourth quarter. (She ranked 130th highest.)

On average for 433 House members, the percentage increase for staff payments was 16.4 percent for Republicans and 15.1 percent for Democrats in last year’s final quarter.
It is not unusual for lawmakers to give some staffers bonuses near the year’s end, which is why total staff payments typically increase in the fourth quarter. Such hikes are legal as long as the lawmakers remain within their annual congressional staff salary budgets.

Other than Akin’s increase, the only lawmaker who gave a higher percentage increase in last year’s final quarter was former U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., whose staff payments rose by 100 percent in the fourth quarter.

The analysis by LegisStorm found that 14 of the top 20 lawmakers – in terms of the percentage increase in staff payments in the final quarter – were leaving the House, either because of retirement or electoral defeat. Nine of the top 10 in staff payment hikes were Republicans.