EXCLUSIVE: Scott Tipton Biggest Spender Among House Freshmen

Republican Rep. Scott Tipton has had all kinds of problems during his first five months in office. Spending taxpayer money, apparently, has not been one of them.

According to a Colorado Pols analysis of House salary data available at the website Legistorm, Tipton spent more money on staff salaries in the first quarter of 2011 than any other freshman member of Congress…and it’s not even close. Tipton’s office doled out a whopping $243,431 in total salaries in the first three months of 2011, including $39,111 to make Mike Hesse one of the highest-paid Chiefs of Staff among the 93 first-year members in the House. Tipton is one of only 17 Freshmen to spend more than $200,000 on staff salaries in Q1. Colorado’s other Freshman Member of Congress, Rep. Cory Gardner, spent $186,673 on salaries during the same period.

Tipton’s office may try to explain these massive expenditures by pointing out that he serves a very large district (geographically-speaking). But Tipton’s predecessor in CD-3, Democratic Rep. John Salazar, spent just $153,013 on salaries in his first three months in office in 2005.

Tipton has gotten bad press lately for nitpicking at budget items, and he campaigned in 2010 as a fiscal reformer; he famously pledged to cut the federal budget in half, a laughable assertion but one that nonetheless he tried to fit into his “smaller government” image. Just last weekend Tipton talked about cutting government spending in remarks to the Pitkin County Republicans. As the Aspen Daily News reports:

“But the question we all have to answer now is, ‘Can we continue to pay the price?’ The answer is ‘no’ and we know it. We are in a dive bomb to economic catastrophe if we do not turn the ship.”

How Tipton will continue to perpetuate his “smaller government” image despite his big spending ways will be vital to his re-election chances in 2012. We’re guessing that “Spendy” Scott Tipton isn’t the kind of moniker he’ll be looking for.



66 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Ralphie says:

    the printing and franking costs for the 4-page glossy brochure he sent to constituents.

    But that $9K for wi-fi on the Aspen bus was a real budget killer.

  2. caroman says:

    8 out of 10 are Repugnicants.

    Do as I say, not as I do!

  3. ClubTwitty says:

    Rather, I think I’ll increase that by 60% or so…

  4. dmindgo says:

    I’d love to see someone here post this on his Facebook page.  I would post the link to this story but I’m blocked on his page.

    • Teeter says:

      posted by a ‘Bob McConnell’ but it disappeared quicker than an ice cream cone in a Cortez August afternoon…

      Apparently all those federal dollars and taxpayer largess gets attentive staff when it comes to monitoring the Facebook…

  5. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    No snark, I just don’t know. Let’s say Tipton made good by cutting his own share of the federal budget in half–is the rest just back in the general fund?

    • gertie97 says:

      but whether they go to other parts of the House budget or to the general fund, I don’t know.

      Former Sen. Wayne Allard always made a big point of spending less and returning money, but I don’t remember to where specifically the money was returned.

      Perhaps a former Allard staffer could enlighten us.


      • Raphael says:

        but I know a bunch of members circulated a letter in Congress last year encouraging everyone who had extra money in their MRA to return it for purposes relating to paying down (or at least not contributing more to) the deficit.

        That may have been more of a publicity stunt, but my understanding was that members returning money from their MRA would be paying it back directly to the general fund.

        For more on how the MRA works you’d have to check out the House Ethics Committee page: http://ethics.house.gov/Subjec

  6. Aristotle says:

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Except that the old boss at least wanted to get revenues flowing in again…

    • gertie97 says:

      Tipton is the gift that keeps on giving for Pace or whoever the Democratic candidate turns out to be.

    • c rork says:

      the ads about medicare and medicaid. That whole “no cuts, no privatization” commercial won’t be forgotten.

      • ajb says:

        I read somewhere (NYTimes?) that the Ryan Plan that every Republican voted for KEPT all the Medicare provisions in the Obama plan – that is, cuts to Medicare advantage and spending cuts due to cost savings. Ryan HAD to keep those cuts for Vouchercare to appear even remotely reasonable. But if that’s true then every House Republican, and an overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans have voted FOR Obamacare and AGAINST Medicare.


      • c rork says:

        from what I’ve read from KFF.org and Kaiser Health News.


        I hadn’t heard anything like that, but I hate reading those type of political articles bc they are so Orwellian. The KHO article is so much more empirical. But thats my source for thinking otherwise. And that scenario you have at the end of your comment, with R freshman voting for ACA provisions. Sounds unlikely.

        • ajb says:

          At issue is whether the Ryan plan repeals Medicare cuts in the Afordable Care Act. It doesn’t. It assumes all of Obama’s cost savings are included.

          From the AP:

          The cuts are included in the 2012 budget that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., unveiled last week and account for a significant share of the $5.8 trillion in claimed savings over the next decade.


          Ryan’s spokesman, Conor Sweeney, said the cuts are virtually the only part of “Obamacare” – the term that Republicans use derisively to describe the health care law enacted last year – that the Wisconsin Republican preserved when he drafted his budget.

    • Independent Voice says:

      Tipton was never the “tea party” candidate; he’s 100% purebred GOP establishment.  The tea party reluctantly supported him when his Gang from Mesa got him the primary. The guy is no more tea party than John Boehner.

      • ClubTwitty says:

        Although Tipton has been working to claim that mantle.  They seem to still distrust him though, Bob McConnell quit the GOP and is still on the circuit talking smack.

        Stories like this cut into Tipton’s already luke warm TP support…if he is primaried by that wing he might be in real trouble, at least have to spend down some of that hard-earned oil and gas money…

        The hypocritical nature of stories like this erode his support in the middle.  And his other positions ruin his chances in places like Pitkin and La Plata, while seriously diminishing them in Garfield, Gunnison and the other swing counties in his district.


      • Aristotle says:

        but I’d bet many of those freshmen ‘pubs are. And they’re spending at a pretty good clip, too.

  7. ClubTwitty says:

    Tipton FB comment:

    Congressman Scott Tipton

    How many new jobs did the new $2 million food dinner plate diagram create? I’m starving for answers… #4jobs

  8. Independent Voice says:

    1. Promises NO PORK then supports Pitkin $24 million fed $ for busses then;

    2. Oops. Doesn’t support busses with wifi

    3. Tells Rob Douglas on air that he doesn’t trust Boehner

    4. Gets taken to the woodshed by Boehner and recants

    5. Supports pork for Pueblo, where he lost to both Mcconnell and Salazar

    6. Daughter uses his name to get business for the family business; ethics issue

    7. At budget crisis, decides his entire staff is “essential” including his scheduler

    8. Found to be the biggest spender of all freshmen

    Dear God it’s only June.  The folks in Grand Junction have gotten exactly what they deserve.  And redistricting won’t do a thing if GJ is still in the picture.  They are crazy in Mesa and will do anything to get their boys elected.  Really sad.

  9. 20th Maine says:

    Exclusive?  Why?  Because you can add?  You note yourselves that this data comes from another website.  Giddy interns running the site over the summer?

    Any commercial on this will sound more like a pharma ad after you add all the disclaimers and fine print.  You know, with things like “this data doesn’t refer to the budgets of the other 80% of congress.”

    PS. Love the giant box where you re-post info found on the other website but put your name at the bottom.

    It’s a tough district.  ’12 will likely be at least a slightly Dem year.  We don’t know where the lines will be.  Scott’s likely to have a tough race (if Dems find a real candidate to run) but not because of this bizzare tabloid journalism.

    • ClubTwitty says:


    • ajb says:

      Completely disproves the notion that Tipton is a profligate spender after he ran as somebody who would stop profligate spending!

      Oh wait…

      • 20th Maine says:

        My point that this is an amateur political attack.  Maybe he’s a profliage spender, but not because of anything included in the FP post.  (In scary voice) “Scott Tipton spent more money on staff salaries than 90 other randomly chosen people out of 425 in congress.  Call Scott and tell him you don’t like his random spending….or his randomness… or his face.”

        Has he voted for crazy budget items?  Has he gone on crazy taxpayer funded junkets?  Does he spend some of his office budget on crazy shit?

        Have any of you asked yourselves any of these questions before you post or support this genius line of attack?

        Lemmings are insufferable, regardless of party.

        • Ralphie says:

          It’s numbers.

          He pledged to cut the government in half.  Yet he led all freshmen in spending in his own office.  Do as I say, not as I do.

          Those aren’t attacks, they’re facts.  Sorry you don’t like them.

        • ClubTwitty says:

          But compared to all the other freshmen.  It’s a specific, rather than ‘random,’ comparison.  But I suspect even you are bright enough to know that already.  Carry on.

          • 20th Maine says:

            Why is that a politically viable subgroup in this case?  It’s just like blondes or guys who drive trucks.  Who cares about freshmen exclusively?  Why not compare it to everyone?

            Why shouldn’t his budget be compared to Lamborn’s or Perlmutter’s?  Or the congressmen in MT & AK with huge geographies to cover?

            • gertie97 says:

              Tipton ran on cutting spending big-time. He needs to walk the walk, and he ain’t doing it.

              • 20th Maine says:

                who didn’t include addressing the budget deficit in his or her campaign.

                Oh, but Tipton did so more strenuously?  Well there you go!  How much more?  22% more strenuously than his 424 peers?  Maybe 78% more?  So should his staff salary budget reflect his strenuousness accurately?

                Instead, does he pay a higher average per employee than his 424 peers?  

                Coffman has one district office.  Should Tipton?

                For what’s supposed to be a Dem cycle, you guys are grasping for straws in the dark.  

                By all means, carry on.

                • Gray in Mountains says:

                  in trying to find reasons why the same district now costs substantially more to serve than it did when Salazar was representing it. Do you know that he has more people? Certainly sounds like his COS is being paid substantially more.

                  I guess it might cost more due to increased fuel prices. Now you can blame Obama.

            • ClubTwitty says:

              and lots of news about new blood, a new freshman class, etc.?  It is a perfectly logical comparison.  

        • ajb says:

          The ad writes itself.

    • Aristotle says:

      if that other site did the work. Just having the raw data doesn’t make the work theirs.

      • 20th Maine says:

        I get an EXCLUSIVE! on the census numbers if I’m the first to add them up?  Everyone would have to cite me when talking about population growth for groups that I had already added up?

        • ajb says:

          In fact people publish studies all the time that rely on adding up census numbers.

          It’s called analysis.  

          • 20th Maine says:

            There’s nothing unique about doing simple math on publicly published numbers.

            9:30am-  DOL releases unemployment numbers.  

            9:31am-  Pols does the math and announces that manufacturing jobs down 18k from last quarter.

            9:35am-  NYT announces jobs down, cites Pols when mentioning that manufacturing jobs are down 18k.

            Next Tuesday-  Paul Krugman cites Pols in his column about the recent DOL report because he mentions the drop in manufacturing jobs.

            Next quarter – Stanford PhD demographers & economists cite Pols in their newly released 120 pg. report on their national economic forecasts because they included the drop in manufacturing employment numbers.


            • Aristotle says:

              They provide analysis.

              Try a more valid comparison?

              • 20th Maine says:

                explains a lot.  Makes you look as small as Pols does when they claim an EXCLUSIVE on simple math done on publicly published numbers to an arbitrary group of congressmen.

                You can keep it.  Good luck with that.

                • Aristotle says:

                  don’t gain credibility when you move the goalposts in response to criticisms of your flawed observations. You said it wasn’t an “exclusive” because the raw data came from elsewhere, then you compared it to when the DOL releases not-raw-at-all data.

                  Criticize the quality of the analysis to your heart’s content, but admit your complaint about the work not being really original was invalid. (And admit that I never commented on that analysis or otherwise defended it while you’re at it.)

            • JeffcoBlue says:


              More than a dozen House freshmen – including one Albany-area congressman – spent more than $200,000 on staff salaries during the first three months of 2011.

              Rep. Chris Gibson, a first-term Republican from Kinderhook, spent $202,705 on first quarter staff expenditures, ranking eighth out of the 17 House freshmen who spent the most on staff salaries, according to a recent analysis conducted by Colorado Pols…

              That’s in addition to the “bizarre tabloid journalism” in the Grand Junction Sentinel (below), both news and editorial.

              Would you like to keep digging? I’ll bet there are other papers.

        • Aristotle says:

          Then the answer is Yes.

          I don’t see why you don’t get that.

    • Colorado Pols says:

      Comparing expenses from a freshman Congressman to somebody with 10 years experience wouldn’t make any sense. The more senior you get, the better committee assignments and higher staff budgets you receive.  

  10. ClubTwitty says:

    Median household in 2005, was $37,674.

    Mike Hesse=4.25 average households in Montezuma county.  Thanks for the job s congressman!

  11. ClubTwitty says:

    Behind a pay wall, but here’s a few of the most pertinent parts::

    For a man who campaigned as a hard-core fiscal conservative – who told people in Colorado that no one should expect to be immune from his efforts to trim the federal budget – it’s disappointing to see that Republican 3rd Congressional District Rep. Scott Tipton has the highest paid staff of any freshman member of Congress.

    Tipton owes his constituents in western Colorado and the entire 3rd District an explanation of why his staff pay is so high. The official “no comment” from his office doesn’t cut it.

    He needs to explain to residents of the 3rd District why the fiscal sacrifice he has said we all must share when it comes to federal spending should not apply to his own staff.


  12. RegisteredRepublican says:

    I think it would be more fair to compare Scott Tipton’s numbers with all 435 House members.  Just within the Colorado delegation, he ranks fifth of the seven members.  I wonder where he fits in on the list of all 435?  

    Comparing Tipton to John Salazar was the height of hypocrisy considering the latter doled out $100K of the taxpayers’ money as bonuses to his staff.    

    • ClubTwitty says:

      The comparison in CO would be with Gardner, whom Tipton also surpasses.  CD3 has lost constituents since 2000, yet Tipton is spending more.  Even the GJ Sentinel–the Sentinel–is calling for an explanation.  The Sentinel.  

    • Colorado Pols says:

      It would make no sense to compare all 435 House members because they have all served for different lengths of time. The more senior members have larger staffs because of better committee assignments, etc.

      The only fair and relevant apples-to-apples comparison is to look at all freshmen members of Congress.

      We compared Tipton’s first three months with Salazar’s first three months — again, for the same reason. Salazar was later on the Appropriations Committee, which meant he had more resources for staff. Why would we compare the last three months of Salazar’s tenure with the first three months of Tipton’s office? That would be stupid.

      • RegisteredRepublican says:

        Three months is probably too short a time frame to be dealing with anyhow.  

        So everything cost the same in 2011 as it did in 2005?  Technology… and its cost… is the same as it was six years ago?  This is truly comparing apples to oranges and will be quite irrelevant (and forgotten) when 3rd CD voters go to the polls in 2012.  What is more likely is that 3rd CD residents will remember Salazar doling out $100,000 of the public’s money in bonuses to his staff, as he left office.  

        Unfortunately for John, a lot of his constituents remembered he was riding around on his tractor, when his Colorado colleagues were holding contentious town hall meetings on Obamacare during the summer of 2009.  I guess he wasn’t interested in hearing what they had to say.  I think a lot of them remembered that in November of 2010.    

  13. ohwilleke says:

    Every representative has the same office budget.  The only difference between Tipton and other representatives is that he spent a larger share of his budget on people instead of good and outsourced services.  Hardly a scandal and hardly an indication that he is “spendy.”

    • ajb says:

      If you campaign on a stand that government is bloated and needs to be slashed, your office expenditures should reflect that. Instead he’s spending on staff and glossy brochures. Why shouldn’t he have to explain himself?

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