Sometimes I see a crazy looking story and think, no, this can’t be true. Ok, it happens a lot these days, if I’m being honest. But, the truth is indeed stranger than fiction and that saying proved correct again Thursday afternoon. It seems that N.Y. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Democrat, turned in an expense account of sorts to the House Administration Committee for office items that included tampons. The charge of $37.16 was denied, he claims, via email from the Office of Finance. Maloney says that the Office of Finance reports to the House Administration Committee.
As with all congressional offices, the taxpayers pay for office supplies and necessities. The office budgets are spent as the congressman sees fit. Maloney wanted to provide his mostly female staff with the feminine hygiene items, as well as having them available for constituents and guests. When the tampon expense was denied, he turned to Twitter to get the word out.
My office bought tampons for female visitors and our staff. Then we got an email from @HouseAdmnGOP telling us we couldn’t use funds to purchase a necessary hygiene product. That’s ridiculous. More info: pic.twitter.com/8jyX3O4PeS
— Sean Patrick Maloney (@RepSeanMaloney) June 28, 2018
Here’s the thing, though. A House Administration spokeswoman says Maloney’s complaint is baloney.
But a House Administration spokeswoman said it “did not send an email or provide any guidance to Rep. Maloney’s Office.”
“We wish Rep. Maloney’s Office would have contacted the Committee for guidance before falsely claiming they: one, contacted the Committee at all for assistance; and two, received guidance from the Committee rejecting their purchase,” the spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday afternoon, while also calling for him to retract his “incorrect statement.”
But the House Administration spokeswoman said it was “absolutely permissible to purchase necessary health and safety products to have in the office, especially in case of an emergency.”
Oh. So, now that both sides of this argument have called the other a liar, Maloney produces what he says is the email and performs a dramatic reading ( his description, not mine) for the camera and puts it up on Twitter Friday.
ICYMI: House Administration claimed I was lying about their discriminatory policy barring the use of funds to buy tampons. Watch me read the email we received and decide for yourself: https://t.co/fo1guAeXzF
— Sean Patrick Maloney (@RepSeanMaloney) June 29, 2018
I mean, it’s nice he provides the amenity, I suppose, but why is this coming up now? Could it be he wants some attention because he’s in a race for Attorney General in New York against three women and the incumbent is also female? Is he just trying to appear supportive of women, as crazy as it sounds? (Roll Call)
In his earlier statement and his video, Maloney pointed out that more than half of his D.C. staffers are female, and he also wanted to provide the tampons for visitors and constituents.
“The Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA) can be used to purchase other necessary hygienic products including tissues and hand sanitizer,” he wrote in the letter to Harper. “With that in mind, it is simply outrageous that the Committee’s policy bars the use of funds for another necessary hygienic product.”
“Using office funds to purchase feminine hygiene is common practice in the private sector and elsewhere in the public sector. There’s no legitimate reason to prevent it here in the House of Representatives. We’re finally having long-overdue discussions regarding women’s rights in this institution. This is part of that discussion,” he added.
Sure, it’s a way to clap back on the Republicans in charge of the House Administration Committee as though this is a part of the Democrats’ War on Women trope but this really seems to be a stretch. Why not just write a check and argue about it without the public indignation? Is his the only office to submit such an expense and have it rejected? Is this the first time Maloney made such a purchase? It all sounds like a stunt to me.
To his virtue-signaling that office funds purchase feminine hygiene products in the private sector, I say, listen, buddy, you are paid by the American taxpayer. Trust me when I tell you that I worked for many years in the private sector and always provided my own ‘supplies’, as did all the other women with whom I worked. No one expected anyone else to pay for it.
Maloney doesn’t show a close-up on the email he alleges his office received. So, I leave it up to you – is he pulling a stunt or was he denied a legitimate claim? If you ask me, I say it’s a stunt.