Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.) charged taxpayers at least $68,250 to lease three vehicles that became his personal property over a five-year period, a newspaper has reported.
Rostenkowski may have violated House rules that prohibit members from buying cars with their expense allowances or arranging government leases that give them an option to buy when the lease ends, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in today’s editions.
Spokesman Pat Jones told the paper that Rostenkowski did nothing wrong and has not used “campaign or taxpayers’ funds to his personal advantage.”
No one was available for comment Saturday at Rostenkowski’s offices in Chicago or Washington, where he chairs the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
Rostenkowski is under investigation by a federal grand jury in Washington that is looking into alleged abuses at the House post office. He has denied wrongdoing in that probe.
The newspaper reported that from 1987 to 1992, Rostenkowski leased three successive vehicles using his expense allowance under a provision that permits House members to maintain a “mobile office” in their districts.
House members are prohibited by law from converting to their own use “any money or thing of value of the United States.”
State records show that Rostenkowski took ownership of the vehicles after the leases went into effect and still holds title to them.
Payments to the leasing company totaled $68,250 through June 30, 1992, according to the most recent congressional expense report.