Hoyer Spent $17,945 in Tax Dollars in 2010 at ‘Corner Bakery’

August 8, 2011 - 4:33 AM

Steny Hoyer

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., at an Oct. 29, 2009 news conference on Capitol. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(CNSNews.com) Then-House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) spent $17,945.17 in tax dollars last year for “food and beverage” for his office purchased from the Corner Bakery in Washington, D.C., a pastry and coffee shop chain.

By comparison, then-House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) spent $16,176.04 for “food & beverage” and “bottled water” services provided by Joe Ragan’s Coffee, a Washington, D.C.-area coffee service and office-supply company. (See related story here.)

The expenditures were reported in the quarterly report published by the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives—“Statement of Disbursements of the House—that itemizes the expenditures of all House leadership offices, membership offices and committees. (See chart - Rep.Hoyer Expenditures)

As majority leader, Hoyer made 87 total expenditures for “food and beverage” in calendar year 2010 at Corner Bakery--a restaurant that serves breakfast and lunch items and also has a catering service.

Representative Hoyer’s average purchase from the Corner Bakery was $208.66. His largest purchase was $466.50 on April 22, 2010 and the two smallest were for $72.70 on June 15, 2010 and July 16, 2010.

Hoyer’s 87 separate purchases from the Corner Bakery in 2010 work out to an average of one purchase for every fourth day of the 365-day year. The records, however, show that Hoyer sometimes made multiple purchase from the Corner Bakery on the same day.  And, of course, Congress usually does not work on the weekends and is sometimes not in session.

Members of Congress are given an annual allowance to pay salaries and cover the costs of running their offices. Leadership offices—for the speaker, the majority leader and the minority leader--are given larger amounts than regular members’ offices. Hoyer’s allowance for his leadership office in fiscal 2010 (which ran from Oct. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010) was $2.5 million. (The speaker’s allowance in fiscal 2010 was $5.1 million and the minority leader’s was $4.6 million.)

During calendar year 2010, the Hoyer’s majority leader’s office spent a total of $3,078,194.73.

Corner Bakery--which has 119 locations nationwide--describes itself as a “casual neighborhood gathering place” and offers both dine-in and catering services, the latter of which account for 20 percent of its sales, according to its website

The Members’ Congressional Handbook, published by the House Administration Committee, says: “Members and employees may be reimbursed for food and beverage expenses incidental to an official and representational meeting that includes a person(s) who is not a Member or employee of the House.

“Members and employees may not be reimbursed for food and beverage expenses related to social activities or social events (e.g. hospitality, receptions, entertainment, holiday or personal celebrations, and swearing-in or inauguration day celebrations). Members and employees may not be reimbursed for the cost of alcoholic beverages.”

According to the House Administration Committee (which governs how members use their office budgets and approves their expense reports), leadership offices such as then-Majority Leader Hoyer’s are not governed by the committee’s regulations as a matter of practice.

Instead leadership office budgets are covered by House ethics rules and statutes, which, according to the Administration Committee, permit buying food and beverages.

“House Rules and statutes address the use of official funds and apply to House Leadership offices,” Administration Committee Spokeswoman Salley Wood told CNSNews.com. “They also permit such purchases.”

When asked what the $17,945.17 in tax dollars Hoyer spent at the Corner Bakery went to buy, Hoyer Spokeswoman Katie Grant told CNSNews.com that it was food for breakfast and lunch meetings.

“The office provides food and beverages at large breakfast and lunch meetings, as is common practice among leadership offices,” Grant said in an email.