Otherwise known as Because They’re Better Than Us, example #6548. Roll Call reports on Nancy Pelosi’s decision last year to move her San Francisco district offices to a new building, supposedly because she needs more security as Speaker of the House. However, something doesn’t add up, because she had been Speaker for almost three years at the time of the move — and her new offices will cost four times as much as her old suite:
Last fall, Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved her district office into the new federal building in San Francisco. The move quadrupled the rent she pays, and her new $18,736 monthly bill is almost double the next-highest rental paid by a Member of the House.
A database assembled by the Sunlight Foundation in cooperation with Roll Call provides new insight into Congressional spending on district office rents. Not surprisingly, Members from large urban districts with the highest property values are paying the most for district office rental, particularly New York–area Members. …
The next highest monthly office rent belongs to Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D), who occupies an office in a federal building in Manhattan’s trendy SoHo neighborhood for just under $10,600. Rep. José Serrano (D) paid $10,350 a month last year for an office in the Bronx, but he recently moved into a new building where the first month’s rent was only $9,583, his spokesman said Friday.
Why did Pelosi make the move to new digs at all? She had been in her original offices for almost 20 years, and her spokesperson claimed to Roll Call that she needed more space as Speaker of the House. Perhaps, but at four times the previous rent? San Francisco commercial space costs money, but it doesn’t usually run twice as expensive as Manhattan.
Actually, all she got was a one-third increase in floor space. Pelosi accepted a 300% increase in rent for 33% more space. That certainly fits with a Democratic Congress that has increased annual federal spending by 33% in three years while providing worse service and running up massive amounts of debt.
Her office also claims that the new building will save on energy costs. In other words, because of the building’s “green” profile, it will use about half the amount of energy as the old building. So taxpayers will pay four times as much in rent in order to save half off the electrical bill. That also sounds like the kind of economics that Democrats have used since assuming power in 2007.
Finally, Pelosi says she needs the additional security the building provides as Speaker. That didn’t seem to be a problem in 2007, 2008, or the first half of 2009, when Pelosi was Speaker without any incidents at her old location. Nor does it explain whether the roughly $14,000 a month extra would needed to have been spent if they had simply upgraded the security at the old location. We should ask, however, if Pelosi plans to vacate that building when she stops being Speaker and the extra security becomes unnecessary — which could happen as early as January.
Update: Had to adjust my math to the terms. Since I wrote the figures as an increase, that makes it a 300% increase, not 400%. The new figure is 400% of the old rent, which makes it a 300% increase. Also, the same applies to the space. It’s 133% of her old space, but a 33% increase, as is the rise in annual federal spending. I’ve adjusted the above accordingly. Thanks to commenter theperfecteconomist for the heads-up.