Congressional Staffers Getting Self-Help Classes on Taxpayer Dime

Michi Iljazi

June 19, 2013

In an outrageous but unsurprising revelation about the extent to which our tax dollars are being wasted by Washington politicians this one extends to the staff of those very elected officials charged with the task of spending federal funds wisely. Senator Tom Coburn (R-Ok.), who has been diligent when it comes to exposing waste and fraud in government, sent a detailed letter to Congressional Leaders late last month detailing many of the programs he believes need to be ended due to the amount of money they cost relative to the lack of value they are worth in relation to benefitting the taxpayers. Sen. Coburn notes that “There are a variety of commonsense actions Congress could take to save money within its own budget…” and he cites an extensive list but one in particular caught our eye: Lifestyle Coaching for Congress

This section of the letter outlines what amounts to be nothing more than taxpayer funded activities that literally have nothing to do with how legislative staff should be functioning as a paid member of a Senator or Representative’s office:

  • A class to help staffers socially titled “Small Talk: Breaking the Ice in Social Situations”; and
  • A lifestyle class designed to help staffers titled “Lighten Up! Spring Cleaning for your Body and Your Life,” where staffers can learn about healthy eating and recipes to be “balanced, calm and focused and several practices that will support you in releasing the old and inviting in the new.”
  • From Stress to Relaxation to help staffers with “exhaustion and lack of clarity” (Senate)
  • Your Credit Score – Friend or Foe (House)
  • Choose Your Attitude: Attitude is Everything (Senate)
  • What’s My Communication Style? (Senate)
  • Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep (Senate)

Stress, Social Communicative Skills, Credit Scores, Sleeping Habits are not critical functions of the federal government and not what taxpayers expect to pay for with their tax dollars. Instead of having these staffers doing something productive like reading 1,000-page bills to identify the provisions that are likely to be harmful, needless, and expensive they are being sent to ‘lunch-time get-togethers’ to talk about how bad their credit is and the reasons why they aren’t getting enough sleep. It is shameful that at a time when Americans nationwide are still making every adjustment necessary to their daily lives to ensure their own financial obligations are met, DC staffers are getting free classes on things that have zero to do with the job they were hired to do. Making matters worse, taxpayers are paying for these programs, and the salaries and benefits of the staffers who are attending them.

The Taxpayers Protection Alliance applauds Sen. Coburn’s efforts and we appreciate him bringing this issue to the attention of everyone. Congress should end these needless “classes” and “seminars;” unless they decide to have one on “Ways to Reduce Spending at the Federal Level” or “How Can We Stop Wasting Taxpayer Dollars?”

Requests have been made from those investigating this matter to find out just exactly how much these programs are costing taxpayers annually but the Senate Sergeant at Arms, who oversees these programs, has yet to respond. We will follow news on this story as it continues to develop.