Missouri Congressman Todd Akin's small government credentials took a hit this week as Roll Call reported that Akin, R-Wildwood, and three fellow GOP representatives used congressional office funds to rent a sound system for an anti health care reform tea party political rally on Nov. 5, 2009. Rep. Akin is running against democratic Senator Claire McCaskill in next years elections. The other GOP representatives are Tom Price, (Ga.), Steve King, (Iowa), and tea party favorite and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, (Mn.). Each pitched in with $3,407.50 of taxpayers money for a total of $13,630 for a political rally. House rules prohibit using the office funds for political activities. Rep. Bachmann brushed aside the controversy, claiming the event was a "press conference", even though no questions were taken from the press at the rally.
The St.Louis Post Dispatch reports that Akin's office has declined to comment. The incident was investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics in 2009, but the House rule in question is vague, and no action was taken. Still, one has to wonder how the tea party, a movement based on a visceral hatred of the government, can justify spending taxpayer's money for their political rally.
At the same time, if Bachmann and Akin can't see the hypocrisy of using taxpayers money to rent a PA system to be used in a political rally in which they rant and rave about big government and runaway spending, they need to get their eyes examined. Don't expect Rep. Akin or his colleagues to admit they've done anything wrong, republicans just don't do that. Will the tea party admonish them for violating the core principle of their movement: reducing government spending? Don't hold your breath, the tea party movement has been co-opted by the GOP.
In an age in which corporate America is pouring massive amounts into the coffers of both political parties it is inexcusable for any public official to use public money for a political event.