$3,000 on flowers?

According to Politico, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California spent $2,993 in taxpayer money on flowers between June and October of this year, in addition to the $30,610 she spent on food and beverages during that same period. What’s more, House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina spent a touch over $18,000 in food, including $265 for donuts from Chantilly Donuts in Virginia. House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio racked up about $24,617 in food and beverage charges, while Rep. Tim Walz, a Democrat from Minnesota, gave $2,196 in unused office funds back to the government to help reduce the deficit.

In defending the expenditure for flowers, Speaker Pelosi’s office noted about a third of her flower expenses this quarter were for Jack Kemp’s funeral, however spending $2,000 on flowers still seems like a lot.

If you’d like to review the quarterly report of the Statement of Disbursements of the House of Representatives, click here.


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28 thoughts on “$3,000 on flowers?

  1. I work for a small company. When one of our employees or a member of our Board of Directors is in the hospital, we send flowers. It usually costs around $60 each time (we send modest arrangements). That is in Wisconsin. In Washington, D.C., I’m betting it costs $100 to send a standard hospital arrangement. Do you think Nancy Pelosi’s office had reason to send flowers to an average of four people per month? That probably includes some staff members and some House colleagues celebrating birthdays as well as those in the hospital. From my own experience in a much smaller office in a less expensive part of the country, I’m surprised Pelosi’s office didn’t spend more on flowers.

    1. That was my thoughts too Ordny Jill. I just ordered my grandmother an arrangement for the holidays and with delivery & taxes it cost $80…this is just a few roses (3-5) with filling in a vase.

      AS for Pelosi sending items to others for condolences, congratulation, and other events Members of Congress are expected to note….flowers is the cheapest way to do this task/obligation of position.

    2. OJ, you might have a point regarding the expense being reasonable, but I’d have an issue with Speaker Pelosi using taxpayer money to send flowers to her staff for their birthdays, etc. That’s stuff that should be done using her own personal funds, at least in my opinion.

      1. Z-

        I may have missed something in the article and in my quick review of the expense reports…but I did not see anything that said they were gifts to the staff.

        House employees and Members of Congress have very strict rules regarding accepting gifts. All gifts over $50 must be reported and gifts between superior and subordinate is prohibited.

        I thought the flowers, etc. were on behalf of the office honoring public servants or other individuals who benefited the district.

        I agree that if gifts were given for a personal reason; i.e. birthday, anniversary, or as AJ says for decoration, then they should not be using federal dollars.

        But those “gifts” given in the line of appropriate interactions, I have no problem; i.e. funerals for other members of state.

        All in all I agree with PB…so much over $3000 …. Versus the billions spent in Iraq & Afghanistan.

        1. Laurie, I was referring to Ordinary Jill’s hypothetical situation from her original comment, not to something I read within the article itself. Sorry for the confusion.

  2. In our office we take up a collection rather than ask for funds to send flowers or buy donuts. If it’s someones birthday we send them a card…… 25,000 for beverages???? WTF are they drinking??? They spend this money because they can without regard for where the money comes from. Tim Walz seems to be the exception.

    1. so sil E…next time Pelosi should ask her constituency to chip in by sending in a couple of bucks….isn’t she is doing that already by using the Congressional Office fund.

      1. When the people in my office wants to send flowers, should we raise your rates to do so? She should ask the people in her office. It’s the office sending the flowers, not the constituency. The office fund should be used to buy pencils, not flowers.

        1. This is where you & I differ philosophically.

          I think it is the constituency who is sending the flowers, etc to the public servant or other individual who has worked to gain benefits for the district.

          And the private sector does raise my rates to cover their additional expenditures….i.e. golden parachutes, bonuses, new facilities, etc…..whether I think they are needed or not.

          1. You have a choice to use a different provider then, don’t you? We don’t have a choice but to pay our taxes so these folks can spend willy nilly. Do you really think buying food, drinks and flowers is an efficient use of your tax dollars? I don’t. If these people want to spend money to send a coworker flowers, then it should come out of their own pocket which, incidentally, is also paid by taxes.

            1. As you have the choice to cast your vote….

              But as I said it is a difference of philosophy…and of course that means this discussion is more than just about flowers….it is about what we see as part of doing business in the public and private sectors.

              Enjoy your day.

              1. When a private sector company screws up, they go out of business. When the government screws up, they get bigger and throw more money at it and keep failing and keep the cycle of failure going and run up huge debts that are unsustainable but it’s OK because they can keep raising taxes… Very different philosophies indeed.

                1. When a private sector company screws up, they go out of business.

                  Unless of course it’s a private sector company that has lined the right government employees pockets ie they’re too big to fail.

  3. This much conversation on $3,000 and none on $10 trillion. It just goes to show that we only talk about what we can wrap our minds around.
    Heaven forfend if she spends $4.50 for a Starbucks. Everyone in the world will talk about that.

      1. E, you make it seem as if the $10 trillion is somehow a dirty secret we don’t want to talk about. If you’d like to talk about it, I’d be happy to talk about how Democrats and “fiscally responsible” Republicans alike contributed to that number, but I’m betting that’s a conversation you don’t want to have.

        1. You seem to feel that I’m somehow going cover up the fact that republicans spend like drunken sailors. I’m not….. I will note, however, that if the repubs are drunken sailors, the dems and this administration would be the captain of the ship that’s passed out at the helm……

          1. historical budget deficits

            E, take a look at that chart. Clearly, Democrats weren’t “in control” when George W. Bush was running up the deficit, now were they?

            1. I couldn’t help but notice, that your chart just happens to not cover the current administration. I’m pretty sure the same chart extended out just a little bit, would be quite interesting.

              1. Locke, projecting into the future is useless, because things can certainly change between now and the time the projections become reality.

                1. You do realize the chart you provided listed projections for the last two years listed for the Bush Administration?

                  I don’t think projecting the future is useless at all – and I don’t believe you think that either. Projecting trends and data is absolutely critical to future planning. It certainly can be dangerous especially when done by incompetent or dishonest people/organizations. But without the forecasting especially by groups like the CBO, where would we be?

            2. Here’s the <a href="http://img248.imageshack.us/img248/3398/deficitcharts.gif&quot; title="same chart", but with updated info for 2009-2011.

              Notice what happens after those big ugly red lines hanging down from the Bush Administration. Really long ugly blue lines handing down. The chart had data from 2006, so the last 2 lines for Bush were projections. The actual numbers came in lower – 2006 the projected -$260 billion was actually -$248, and 2007 was $-286 projected, -$160 actual. The projections are still represented by the white area – with the actual numbers being the solid red bar.

              The enormous, record breaking -$486 deficit during the last year of the Bush administration will be absolutely shattered by what’s projected to be a -$1.58 TRILLION for this year. And while this is a projection, it was updated as of August, so it’s not like that number is going to be off by much. The next does’t look much better with a deficit of $1.3 Trillion and though the projection looks to be a substantial increase in 2011, it’s still a deficit of just under 1 Trillion dollars.

              The point I’d like to make is this: the deficit under the last years of the Bush administration were awful. Lots of conservatives were unhappy about it and expressed that displeasure. As did Democrats/Liberals. Meanwhile, those deficits look to be a drop in the bucket compared to the current administration. Really dwarfing anything that has ever come before it – I guess that’s what the President meant by “unprecedented”. Those on the right are very unhappy about it. Those on the left, many of whom were critical under Bush, are either quiet, or answer, with “But Bush did it first.”

  4. Sending flowers for condolences and other purposes similar is not something I have a problem with. What I do have a problem with is the elaborate way a number of government buildings are decorated with this kind of thing. There are numerous fresh flower arrangements displayed in the white house every single day. Not for any real purpose, just for decoration. I simply cannot wrap my head around such waste – and it’s been that way for many, many years.

    I realize this source is wikipedia and not the best out there, but the fact that we pay the salary of a “Chief floral designer” and FOUR assistants is beyond ridiculous to me.

    1. There was a funny West Wing bit on this. It was one of the last episodes with the new Administration moving in & the entire kitchen staff was introduced to the new First Lady. She’s actually embarassed by how many people there are & even sort of protests, “we don’t need all this” kind of thing. The guy in charge of says, “OK – which ones do you want to fire?”

      That’s sort of the long & the short of it and how we get a deficits of hundreds of billions each year, and a national debt of trillions of dollars. Spending money is easy. Cutting spending is tough. Very few – very few politicians have the ability or courage to do it. I like what Feingold is doing with the Spotlight on Spending stuff. I disagree with him on most issues, but he’s one of the very few.

  5. Flowers can be very expensive, as a politician that bill can be huge because you are involved with a lot of people so that includes gifts and arrangements for public events etc.

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