Yesterday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Senate and House Ethics Committees charging all those congresscreeps who live in The Family's secretive C Street sin dorm with paying below-market rent.
The Family is a mafia-inspired pseudo-Christian group that flatters and recruits those who they deem powerful "elites" across the world. It was born from a marriage of business interests and a far-right-wing anti-Roosevelt preacher in the Depression. Their goal is supposedly to train fundamentalist "leaders" and plant them in all levels of American government (and the military). They own this fancy C Street townhouse, where Family-affiliated members live super-cheap and get meals and maid service. They get to live cheap in part because the townhouse is classified as a church.
It seems like a pretty open-and-shut case—Congressmen rent rooms for below-market rates ($950/month) because the townhouse is classified as a "church," even though The Family is pretty obviously a political organization. (And congresspeople shouldn't be living in churches anyway, right?)
The House and Senate gift rules prohibit accepting discounted lodging unless the housing is provided to an individual based on personal friendship or if it is hospitality provided in a residence owned by an individual. In this case, however, the red brick townhouse located close to the Capitol has a corporate owner, the C Street Center Inc.
Politicians who have lived or prayed at C-street, or who have been counseled by "The Family," include John Ensign, Mark Sanford, Chip Pickering, Bart Stupak, and Tom Coburn. (Also Hillary Clinton is totally down with these ridiculous power-worshiping culty freaks.) The complaint names Sam Brownback, Coburn, Jim DeMint, Ensign, Mike Doyle, Heath Shuler, Stupak, and Zach Wamp. Coburn's spokesman has a really good defense, though:
"Anyone who has spent 10 minutes on Craigslist would realize that C Street residents pay fair-market value," Hart said. "Residents at the [C Street] boarding house have one bedroom. Most share a bathroom. All pay for their own meals and share personal space with the other residents and guests. They even share the remote … they fight over their favorite channel."
See? It's not unethical because they have "one bedroom" (does he think most people have two?) and sometimes some of them share a bathroom.
So we went to Craigslist for ten minutes. There are definitely some cheap rooms in shared houses in the Capitol Hill area available. But very few of them are in $1.8 million townhouses, none of them say anything about meals, and I'm guessing you have to clean up after yourself in all of them.
(Oh, but here's a room in a lovely home that's one block from the House Office Buildings—convenient!—and it's even "utilized during the day by a Christian Non Profit group." That'll run you $1,600.)
Basically, if you're paying under a $1000, you're living somewhere inconvenient or, uh, a bit more diverse than these lily-white heartland congressmen are probably comfortable with.
(Given C Street's recent history, we have to wonder at the wisdom of Tom Coburn's spokesman implicitly admitting his boss's familiarity with Craigslist.)