In eight cases that began in 2021, or continued to be billed that year, the House and Senate wholly blacked out the reasons for hiring the private law firm, records obtained through a Right-to-Know request show
Latest by Sam Janesch/The Caucus
Reporters sorted through thousands of heavily redacted documents to reveal how the legislature spends your tax dollars on private lawyers.
The mutually beneficial system, which is entirely legal, enriches the campaigns of Pa. lawmakers, who in turn hire firms for all types of legal matters — and all paid for by taxpayers.
Though a win for taxpayers, the information provided online is not searchable or easy to analyze.
Following reporting by The Caucus and Spotlight PA, the Pennsylvania Senate said it will post expenses online, though it’s unclear in what format.
Per diems allow legislators to collect flat-rate payments intended for food and lodging without turning over any receipts. They were front and center in the charges against Margo Davidson.
Mileage, meals, lodging, travel, and a special perk called per diems are part of the hidden costs charged to taxpayers to support Pennsylvania’s legislature.
The bipartisan measure comes in response to an ongoing investigation by Spotlight PA and The Caucus into how taxpayers shell out millions each year for perks but are largely unaware of that spending.
Just 29 of the 253 full-time lawmakers in Pennsylvania post some information online about how they spend taxpayer dollars in their duties, despite many proclaiming, “It’s Your Money.”
A web of expense accounts, few reporting requirements, and questionable claims of “legislative privilege” help keep lawmaker spending obscured — and the public in the dark.