Friday, October 16, 2015

Which State Senators Make Their Expense Reports Public?

In August, 2011 and April, 2014, I researched the legislative websites of all of Pennsylvania's state senators, looking to see which, if any of them, posted their expense reports on their websites. The legislative expense reports provide information on what the senators spend on rent, office expenses, newspaper subscriptions, etc.  Campaign spending reports are a different animal altogether.

In 2011, only one state senator, Republican Jeff Piccola of the 15th district, put his reports on his website.  In 2014 there were two, Democrat Rob Teplitz, who was elected to the 15th when Piccola decided not to run for another term, and Republican Lloyd Smucker of the 13th district.   Also in 2014 several Republican senators included a section called “It’s Your Money” that connected to information on the state budget but not their own spending.

There is a standard template for Democrats and Republicans but there is a lot of individualization, too: color schemes, links, types of information can all be customized.   You can find links to all of the Republican state senators' sites at:; Democrats are at:

Last month I decided to update the research and see if any more senators are providing their expense accounts.  I looked at the home page of each senator's site, and reviewed all of the links available on the main menu (mouse over the main menu bar to see the links on that topic).  It is possible that some senators included their expense reports on a secondary screen menu, but that seemed unlikely, and honestly, who is going to drill down that far?

So, who posts their expense reports?  Republicans Ryan P. Aument (36th district) and Democrat Rob Teplitz (15th district).  I have met Sen. Teplitz a few times and find him extraordinary; this is just more evidence of his exceptional character.  Teplitz's quarterly expenses are listed under the "about" tab.  Aument has a section under about the "about" tab called "It's Your Money" that lists some personal expenses.  He has nearly a year of monthly expenses listed but I looked at all of them and all have a total of zero.  So, while he gets credit for posting something, his information has no value.  However, he does provide his office rent, salary, and the zeroed out expenses for a state care or reimbursements.  That's something.

Again, some other Republicans had the “It’s Your Money” section, and this time it sometimes included information on their spending, their salary, whether or not they use a state car or take per diems, and a few offered their office rents. 

Those including the “It’s Your Money” section, with at least some personal expenses are:

A couple of others mention that they don’t or won’t take per diems but provide no other information.

So, on full disclosure the number is the same, one Democrat and one Republican.  Massive kudos to Aument and Teplitz. (Although Aument does not provide the detail Teplitz does he at least makes the effort of posting reports)  Hats off to the Republicans who are providing at least partial information in the “It’s Your Money” section of their site.  Raspberries to the Democrats who do not seem willing to offer this kind of information.  You know, I bet if they asked nicely the Republican webmaster would share the “It’s Your Money” formatting.  Because right now the Republican state senators are trouncing them in the transparency department.

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