Porter Berated Bank for Wages Comparable to Her Own Staff Salaries

Office refused to provide information on which staffers were full or part time

Rep. Katie Porter
Rep. Katie Porter / Getty Images
September 3, 2019

Rep. Katie Porter (D., Calif.) berated JP Morgan Chase Bank for its entry-level wages, but a review of staff salary disclosures shows she is paying members of her staff comparable wages.

Porter grilled JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon during an April 10 hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, giving a rundown of a hypothetical JP Morgan employee living in California with gross pay of $35,070 a year, netting about $2,425 per month in take-home pay.

She walked Dimon through a theoretical single mother's budget line by line and concluded she would live with a $567 monthly shortfall on a JP Morgan bank teller salary.

"My question for you, Mr. Dimon, is how should she manage this budget shortfall while she's working full time at your bank?" Porter asked.

A review of the House of Representatives second quarter disbursement report shows that five people on her staff earned pay that, if extrapolated into an annual salary, would be about four hundred dollars more, or possibly less than the $35,000 of the hypothetical bank employee.

Porter Staff Salaries 1

"Some of the folks you're looking at are part-time employees," Porter's chief of staff, Amanda Fischer, said in an email when asked by the Washington Free Beacon about the office pay scale of actual—not theoretical—employees.

Fischer did not respond to follow-up questions about which of the five employees were full or part-time, how many hours per week the part-time employees worked on average, or whether Porter's office could pay any of the individuals more than they currently earn.

Fischer also pointed to a student loan assistance program available to Capitol Hill staffers, but that money comes with caveats.

"Interns are not eligible, nor are part-time or temporary workers, even those who are paid," a 2015 report from Roll Call detailed. "Only full-time staffers are eligible."

The report also mentioned that the student loan benefit is taxable.

Additionally, the California "employee" of JP Morgan did not have student loan repayments in the budget delineated by Rep. Porter.

Requests for comment to the House Office of Payroll and Benefits to confirm that the information in the Roll Call report was still current were not returned.

Fischer also said Porter's staffers received performance bonuses, but again, provided no response when asked to detail the bonuses paid thus far to the employees in question.

The website, which tracks members of Congress as well as their staff, estimates that the annualized salary of the two Porter staffers in the graph above making $35,000 will actually have an annualized salary of $35,486, a figure that would seem to incorporate bonuses. Without a congressional office providing specifics, it is difficult to know which employees are full-time or part-time.

The difference between the highest salary estimates of the Porter staffers in question compared with the theoretical JP Morgan Chase employee is less than one one-hundredth of a percent.

Higher-profile Democrats have expressed positions on pay issues that did not match their own actions.

For example, presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has been a vocal champion of gender pay equality yet had a wider gender pay gap in her own office than the national average.

"Last year's [Census Bureau] figures, showing that women earned 79.6 percent of what men earned, put Equal Pay Day on Tuesday April 4, more than three months into the calendar year," the Free Beacon reported this spring.

"However, women working for Warren were paid just 71 cents for every dollar paid to men during the 2016 fiscal year, according to a Free Beacon analysis."

California senator and fellow presidential candidate Kamala Harris did better than Warren, but still managed to pay women in her office less than their male counterparts.