Congressional staffers working for Rep. Jim Moran (D., Va.) received a 120 percent pay hike in the final three months of 2011, financial disclosure records show.
According to the website Legistorm, which maintains a database of congressional staff salaries, Moran’s quarterly payroll averaged $200,802 for the first nine months of 2011, but jumped to $427,999 in quarter four, an increase of 113 percent.
Average quarterly salaries for Moran’s staff increased by 120 percent during the same period, from an average of $12,160 in quarters one through three to $26,750 in quarter four.
Records show that Moran did not make any new hires in the fourth quarter of last year; the entire $227,197 payroll increase went to existing employees, all of it funded by American taxpayers.
Moran’s district director, Susan H. Warner, made $26,250 in the third quarter of 2011. Her fourth-quarter salary was bumped up to $31,534, on top of a $9,715 bonus. Legislative assistant Zachary C. Cafritz, who made $11,250 in the third quarter of last year, saw his salary nearly double in quarter four, in addition to receiving a $4,715 bonus.
The increase is significant when compared with other congressional offices. Moran ranked just 342nd out of 435 House members in terms of total office payroll in the third quarter of 2011. In quarter four, he ranked first overall. Similarly, Moran’s office jumped from 352nd to 2nd in terms of average quarterly salaries during that time.
It is also unusual given the newfound commitment to fiscal responsibility among lawmakers.
One of the first actions the new Congress took in January 2011 was to pass a bill cutting legislative office budgets by at least five percent. The measure passed 410 to 13.
Legistorm notes that while awarding fourth-quarter bonuses and salary hikes to staff is standard practice among members of Congress, 2011 was a particularly low-key year in this regard.
Congressional staff earned an average salary increase of 3.6 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, compared with 9.4 percent in 2010. According to Legistorm, it is by far the smallest increase recorded since at least 2001, when the site began tracking the data.
Altogether, House aides made on average about $700 less in the fourth quarter of 2011 than they did the previous year.
Thomas Schatz, president of the taxpayer watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), said that while Moran’s actions are perfectly legal, they could be viewed as tactless.
"I think it reflects a little insensitivity toward other employees around the country who are lucky if they even have a job," Schatz told the Free Beacon. "And if his constituents think this is something that is an abuse of their money, then they certainly should let him know one way or another."
Moran has a history of profligate use of taxpayer dollars. Schatz’s organization gave him a 4 percent, or "Hostile," rating in 2010 for his positions on federal spending. The 11-term congressman has a lifetime CAGW rating of 20 percent, or "Unfriendly," but has not cracked doubled digits since 2005.
He also has a history of controversial statements. In 2003, Moran accused the Jewish community of manipulating the country into war with Iraq.
"If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this," Moran said at an anti-war rally in Virginia. "The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should."
The remarks were condemned by Jewish groups and by many of Moran’s Democratic colleagues.
More recently, in November 2009, Moran compared Republicans to the Taliban during an interview with a local radio station.
"I mean, if the Republicans were running in Afghanistan, they’d be running on the Taliban ticket as far as I can see," he said.
Moran has been an outspoken supporter of the controversial "Occupy Wall Street" movement.
Last week, he sought to have the Washington, D.C., Metro remove a controversial advertisement he claimed was "disrespectful" to President Obama.
"Minimum standards of decency must be maintained," he wrote in a letter to Washington Metro Area Transit Authority officials.
The ad, which appears in a Virginia Metro station, touts a film that is critical of the president’s health care law and includes the phrase "Go to hell, Barack."
WMATA officials shunned the request, arguing that the ad constituted protected speech under the First Amendment.
Moran’s office did not respond to a request for comment.