British Lawmakers’ Expenses for Moats, Horse Manure and Porn Angers Voters

May 16, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Deepening expense scandals involving a growing number of British lawmakers, who have been creatively milking the Parliament’s expense claims guidelines, has the country in an uproar.

In a deepening recession where thousands of Britons have lost their jobs and government budgets have been cut to the bone; the very idea of lawmakers claiming reimbursable expenses for such things as moat cleaning, chandeliers and flat-screen TVs has the country’s citizens in a populist uproar calling for their heads.

Already, nearly a hundred lawmakers have been implicated into claiming expenses that appear to range from outright fraud to creative financing. And the growing scandal crosses party lines, sparing no one, affecting the Conservative, Labor and Liberal Democratic parties.

The scandal erupted after thousands of pages of the lawmakers’ expense reports were leaked to the Daily Telegraph and the paper has taken full advantage of the political goldmine that fell into its hands.

For the past week, the Telegraph has enjoyed increased readership with its shocking daily headlines of yet another greedy politician milking the system for such ridiculous expenses, as $600 for 550 bags of horse manure, $150 to replace 25 light bulbs, $900 for repairing a lawn mower and not one, but two claims from the same lawmaker to repair his toilet seat.

The more outrageous expenses include claims for pornographic films, chandeliers and repairs to a tennis court, swimming pool and helicopter pad.

The Telegraph has been torturing the poor lawmakers, drip by drip, revealing bits and pieces of scandalous expenses at a snail’s pace, informing its readers that it still has hundreds of pages to pour over detailing the expenses of all 646 House of Commons lawmakers.

The scandal has already cost two lawmakers their jobs. The first to go was, Shahid Malik, a junior justice minister who resigned in the wake of his expense report that sought reimbursement for nearly $100,000 over three years for decorating his London home that, included a $3,000 flat-screen TV and a $1,100 massage chair.

Malik didn’t go quietly into the night, publicly shrieking that he had “nothing to apologize for” and that his expenses weren’t nearly as greedy as other lawmakers.

The next victim to go was Prime Minister Brown’s aide on climate change, Elliot Morley who claimed expenses for interest on a mortgage that had already been paid off. He has since paid the money back to Parliament.

Although many of the claims did not technically break any parliamentary rules, the 66-page Green Book of expense guidelines, specifies that expenses shouldn’t damage the Parliament’s reputation. In times of tough economic times, British citizens are appalled that their lawmakers don’t feel inclined to scale back expenses like the rest of the country, putting themselves beneath such things like doing without a swimming pool or tennis court. And worse, expecting the cash strapped government to foot the bill.

Meanwhile, police and prosecutors are meeting to decide if any laws have been broken and dozens of lawmakers have publicly apologized and paid money back to Parliament.

As an American dealing with our own financial political scandals, from greedy bankers receiving million dollar bonuses after receiving federal bailouts, to ponzi schemers like Bernie Madoff defrauding hundreds of people out of their life savings, while the SEC looked the other way, Britain’s version of a political scandal involving expenses for horse manure and flat screen TVs, seem almost quaint in comparison.

And let’s not forget the growing scandal of the Bush administration’s torturing of terrorist suspects, using waterboarding, a near drowning method, and other enhanced interrogation techniques. Drip, drip, drip; the increasing evidence of illegal torture with the continued release of declassified “torture memos,” is leading to a groundswell of politicians calling for an official investigation.

I hate to engage in a little schadenfreude at Britain’s expense, but how refreshing to have a good old-fashioned scandal of simple greed, involving a lawmaker padding his expense report with claims for horse manure and massage chairs.

Oh, the good old days of yore, Americans can’t help but gaze wistfully across the pond to Britain’s quaint little brouhaha.

Source


Comments

Got something to say? **Please Note** - Comments may be edited for clarity or obscenity, and all comments are published at the discretion of ChattahBox.com - Comments are the opinions of the individuals leaving them, and not of ChattahBox.com or its partners. - Please do not spam or submit comments that use copyright materials, hearsay or are based on reports where the supposed fact or quote is not a matter of public knowledge are also not permitted.