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Primary opponent criticizes McHenry over bonuses to congressional staff

SARAH LOWERY
Staff Writer

 

Denver journalist and congressional canidate Ken Fortenberry has taken issue with U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, of North Carolina’s 10th District, over his use of funds, particularly for handing out bonuses to his staff.
Fortenberry, who is challenging McHenry for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in next year’s Republican primary, is claiming McHenry has gifted his staff members with bonuses and raised their salaries by 36 percent between 2006 and 2010.
“While most people in his district are working hard just to make ends meets, U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry is increasingly spending more of the taxpayers’ money on his staff, and handing out bonuses,” says a release that Fortenberry recently sent to local news media.
According to a LegiStorm.com database of McHenry’s staff salaries, which Fortenberry attributed as the source for his claims, bonuses, designated as “other compensation,” ranging from $1,250 to $9,168 were delivered before Christmas 2010.
“McHenry is claiming to be Mr. Conservative at the same time (he is) spending taxpayers’ money like it’s going out of style,” Fortenberry said in the release. “He may not have raised his staff’s individual salaries, but he certainly was generous with the taxpayers’ money in handing out bonuses.”
“How in the world can anyone in his right mind do that?” he continued. “I don’t know of anyone in Washington who deserves a bonus for the miserable shape they’ve put our country in. Mr. McHenry needs to dip into his own pockets and reimburse the taxpayers for this waste of their money.”
When asked to comment on Fortenberry’s allegations, Ryan Minto, who handles press for the congressman’s office, referred the Times-News to a statement released to the news media by Parker Poling, chief of staff to McHenry:
“Our office has been able to retain talented, hardworking employees for the people of Western North Carolina with a staff salary budget that ranked 10th out of the 13 N.C. congressional offices,” Poling stated.
“We have cut our office budget 11.5 percent in the last two years.”
“Furthermore, we always return money to the Treasury at the end of each year. We have not given raises over the last two years. However, when, as a result of staff cost-cutting measures, there is some money remaining in our personnel budget, we are able to distribute some of those funds in the form of a Christmas bonus.”
Minto declined to comment further regarding Fortenberry’s role in disseminating information on the staff bonuses.

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