George Santos faces reporters at the Capitol on Nov. 30. The next...

George Santos faces reporters at the Capitol on Nov. 30. The next day he was expelled by Congress. Credit: AP / J. Scott Applewhite

WASHINGTON — Long Island congressmen and most other members of the New York delegation have taken advantage of the taxpayer-funded reimbursements for lodging and meals under a new policy that does not require receipts to verify costs, a Newsday analysis found.

The policy for the first time allows House members, who are paid $174,000 a year, to get reimbursed for housing and food expenses when the House is in session and during committee work in an attempt to ease the costs of maintaining their homes in their districts and in Washington.

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park), a member of the House Administration Committee that unanimously approved the policy and no-receipt process in March 2023, has received $37,523 in reimbursements, the second-most in the New York delegation.

Rep. Nick LaLota (R-Amityville) was reimbursed $29,595, the seventh-most among New Yorkers, and Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) received $20,482, the eighth-most, an analysis of the five quarterly House disbursement reports from Jan. 3, 2023, to March 31, 2024, shows.

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who was sworn in on Feb. 28 to replace ousted Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau-Queens), did not file for expense reimbursements for the first quarter of this year. Five other New York Democratic House members did not seek any reimbursements.

At the top of the list of New Yorkers is Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville), chair of the House Republican Conference, with $38,221 in reimbursed expenses.

The overall amount reimbursed to the 22 lawmakers — between 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans — who served as members of the New York delegation since the policy went into effect totaled nearly $485,000. 

Government watchdog groups have not criticized the House’s decision to allow members to obtain expense reimbursements, but some warned that failing to require receipts could open the door to abuse of the system.

The House Administration Committee “strongly encourages” lawmakers to keep receipts of their expenses, even if they don’t have to file them, according to officials. Press aides to D’Esposito, LaLota and Garbarino said their offices keep copies of their receipts and records of expenses.

Santos also received reimbursements — $25,136, or the tenth-most in the New York delegation — during his 11 months in office before the House expelled him on Dec. 1, 2023, for allegedly filing false financial disclosure and campaign finance reports, among other things.

Like all House members, Santos did not have to file receipts to verify his expenses, as many businesses and some state legislatures require.

Santos did not respond to Newsday's questions about his expenses and receipts. 

When asked if Santos’ filings had been reviewed, the House’s chief administrative officer declined to comment.

Craig Holman, a lobbyist for Public Citizen, a consumer-rights advocacy group, raised concerns about the policy stating that the House chief administrative officer requested the no-receipt policy.

“I'm not so much opposed to reimbursing members of Congress for some living expenses. But I really do want to know if we're being deceived as to what those expenses are paying for,” said Holman.

The House Ethics Committee already has begun reviewing the reimbursement filings of Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) based on a complaint saying she submitted vouchers for excessive funds related to her Washington town house, The New York Times reported two weeks ago. The committee has made no announcements about Mace. 

Earlier this month, Mace said on CNN that she follows all the ethics rules and guidelines.

The policy does not raise the amount of taxpayer funds that House members get for their offices and official duties, but it allows them to reimburse themselves with money from their office accounts for official travel and staff salaries.

It caps reimbursements submitted on a monthly expense form with daily rates for meals, incidentals and lodging calculated by the General Services Administration.

Under it, members can get reimbursements for expenses for hotel stays, rental costs, and utilities and insurance for properties owned or rented in Washington, with a daily cap depending on the month. Lawmakers cannot expense principal or interest on a mortgage.

And lawmakers must pay taxes on the reimbursements.

“The current House member reimbursement process was implemented in a unanimous, bipartisan fashion by the House Administration Committee based on a recommendation made by the Select Committee on Modernization in late 2022,” said D’Esposito’s spokesman, Matt Capp.

That recommendation, Capp’s statement said, “aimed to align the legislative branch with similar processes to the executive branch, private sector, and some state legislatures’ travel reimbursement programs.”

Garbarino said all the expenses are for official government travel, like in Albany.

“Before this policy, many Members of Congress slept in their offices rather than pay out of pocket for a Washington, D.C., hotel for the roughly 180 days each year that the House is in session,” he said in a statement. Some members still sleep in their offices.

LaLota’s spokesman, Will Kiley, said the policy is “not much different than the reimbursement programs for any other federal employee who lives outside the D.C. area and travels to D.C. for work.” Kiley added, “The congressman supports it.”

“Congress has generally been very cautious when it comes to financing their own personal lives. They haven't given themselves a raise since 2009. They steadfastly refuse to take cost of living increases,” Holman said.

“Then suddenly they come out with this blunder,” he said of the no-receipt policy.

The House Administration Committee approved that policy at the request of the House’s chief administrative officer on March 31, 2023, undeterred by D’Esposito’s calls for Santos to resign or the Ethics Committee launch of a probe of Santos in the weeks before the vote.

The chief administrative office told the committee that required filing of receipts would raise the volume of transactions processed by more than 40%, and recommended instead using the Washington, D.C., rate of reimbursements like other parts of the House, an aide familiar with the discussion said.

The chief administrative officer also raised concerns about the security of the members because of some of the information in the receipts, such as location of residences and personal financial information.

Holman said the House chief administration office could redact sensitive information before making the receipts public.

WASHINGTON — Long Island congressmen and most other members of the New York delegation have taken advantage of the taxpayer-funded reimbursements for lodging and meals under a new policy that does not require receipts to verify costs, a Newsday analysis found.

The policy for the first time allows House members, who are paid $174,000 a year, to get reimbursed for housing and food expenses when the House is in session and during committee work in an attempt to ease the costs of maintaining their homes in their districts and in Washington.

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park), a member of the House Administration Committee that unanimously approved the policy and no-receipt process in March 2023, has received $37,523 in reimbursements, the second-most in the New York delegation.

Rep. Nick LaLota (R-Amityville) was reimbursed $29,595, the seventh-most among New Yorkers, and Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-Bayport) received $20,482, the eighth-most, an analysis of the five quarterly House disbursement reports from Jan. 3, 2023, to March 31, 2024, shows.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Long Island congressmen and most other members of the New York delegation have taken advantage of the taxpayer-funded reimbursements for lodging and meals under a system that does not require receipts to verify costs, a Newsday analysis found.
  • Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park), a member of the House Administration Committee that unanimously approved the policy and no-receipt process, has received $37,523 in reimbursements, the second-most in the New York delegation.
  • Former U.S. Rep. George Santos received $25,136 in reimbursements, or the tenth most in the New York delegation — during his 11 months in office.

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who was sworn in on Feb. 28 to replace ousted Rep. George Santos (R-Nassau-Queens), did not file for expense reimbursements for the first quarter of this year. Five other New York Democratic House members did not seek any reimbursements.

At the top of the list of New Yorkers is Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville), chair of the House Republican Conference, with $38,221 in reimbursed expenses.

The overall amount reimbursed to the 22 lawmakers — between 11 Democrats and 11 Republicans — who served as members of the New York delegation since the policy went into effect totaled nearly $485,000. 

Government watchdog groups have not criticized the House’s decision to allow members to obtain expense reimbursements, but some warned that failing to require receipts could open the door to abuse of the system.

The House Administration Committee “strongly encourages” lawmakers to keep receipts of their expenses, even if they don’t have to file them, according to officials. Press aides to D’Esposito, LaLota and Garbarino said their offices keep copies of their receipts and records of expenses.

Santos’ expenses

Santos also received reimbursements — $25,136, or the tenth-most in the New York delegation — during his 11 months in office before the House expelled him on Dec. 1, 2023, for allegedly filing false financial disclosure and campaign finance reports, among other things.

Like all House members, Santos did not have to file receipts to verify his expenses, as many businesses and some state legislatures require.

Santos did not respond to Newsday's questions about his expenses and receipts. 

When asked if Santos’ filings had been reviewed, the House’s chief administrative officer declined to comment.

Craig Holman, a lobbyist for Public Citizen, a consumer-rights advocacy group, raised concerns about the policy stating that the House chief administrative officer requested the no-receipt policy.

“I'm not so much opposed to reimbursing members of Congress for some living expenses. But I really do want to know if we're being deceived as to what those expenses are paying for,” said Holman.

The House Ethics Committee already has begun reviewing the reimbursement filings of Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) based on a complaint saying she submitted vouchers for excessive funds related to her Washington town house, The New York Times reported two weeks ago. The committee has made no announcements about Mace. 

Earlier this month, Mace said on CNN that she follows all the ethics rules and guidelines.

How it works

The policy does not raise the amount of taxpayer funds that House members get for their offices and official duties, but it allows them to reimburse themselves with money from their office accounts for official travel and staff salaries.

It caps reimbursements submitted on a monthly expense form with daily rates for meals, incidentals and lodging calculated by the General Services Administration.

Under it, members can get reimbursements for expenses for hotel stays, rental costs, and utilities and insurance for properties owned or rented in Washington, with a daily cap depending on the month. Lawmakers cannot expense principal or interest on a mortgage.

And lawmakers must pay taxes on the reimbursements.

Policy defended

“The current House member reimbursement process was implemented in a unanimous, bipartisan fashion by the House Administration Committee based on a recommendation made by the Select Committee on Modernization in late 2022,” said D’Esposito’s spokesman, Matt Capp.

That recommendation, Capp’s statement said, “aimed to align the legislative branch with similar processes to the executive branch, private sector, and some state legislatures’ travel reimbursement programs.”

Garbarino said all the expenses are for official government travel, like in Albany.

“Before this policy, many Members of Congress slept in their offices rather than pay out of pocket for a Washington, D.C., hotel for the roughly 180 days each year that the House is in session,” he said in a statement. Some members still sleep in their offices.

LaLota’s spokesman, Will Kiley, said the policy is “not much different than the reimbursement programs for any other federal employee who lives outside the D.C. area and travels to D.C. for work.” Kiley added, “The congressman supports it.”

Why no receipts?

“Congress has generally been very cautious when it comes to financing their own personal lives. They haven't given themselves a raise since 2009. They steadfastly refuse to take cost of living increases,” Holman said.

“Then suddenly they come out with this blunder,” he said of the no-receipt policy.

The House Administration Committee approved that policy at the request of the House’s chief administrative officer on March 31, 2023, undeterred by D’Esposito’s calls for Santos to resign or the Ethics Committee launch of a probe of Santos in the weeks before the vote.

The chief administrative office told the committee that required filing of receipts would raise the volume of transactions processed by more than 40%, and recommended instead using the Washington, D.C., rate of reimbursements like other parts of the House, an aide familiar with the discussion said.

The chief administrative officer also raised concerns about the security of the members because of some of the information in the receipts, such as location of residences and personal financial information.

Holman said the House chief administration office could redact sensitive information before making the receipts public.

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

A taste of summer on Long Island NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer. 

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

A taste of summer on Long Island NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer. 

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