With every such request in the past year, Brady has decided to let taxpayer foot the bill. Under House rules, lawmakers are technically responsible for the cost of missing office equipment worth more than $500, whether it’s a laptop or a television that gets stolen or disappears with a former staffer.
But Brady, as chairman of the House Administration Committee, has the sole power to grant a waiver and let a colleague off the hook. This year, all 12 waiver requests, reaching as high as $1,800, have been granted.
Nine rank-and-file House members, two committee chairmen and one House officer have been granted relief from personal liability for missing office equipment, but the Administration Committee would not identify these lawmakers, nor would it make public their official letters of request.
“It’s one of those cynical circumstances where the Congress publicly feigns a higher level of accountability and, when nobody is looking, manages to let themselves off the hook,” said a source familiar with the process.
This is how the system works — or is supposed to work: When an item is missing or damaged from a congressional office, the member is required to report it to the chief administrative officer of the House, who issues a notice of how much the lawmaker owes to the Treasury based on the fair market value of the missing good
The only way to get out of writing a personal check: Appeal to Brady.
To get a waiver, the member submits a private request in writing, including a standard police report to show that the item was stolen. The request must also list the other steps the member took to avoid the loss.
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