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Smart Talk: End the congressional bunkhouse

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A watchdog group called last week for the end of a practice by at least 33 members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin of Little Rock, of using their offices as residences in Washington to hold down their expenses. The group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washignton, said Congress is "not a frat house." CREW has complained to the Office of Congressional Ethics that in-office living could violate House rules, which prohibit use of office allowances for personal expenses. CREW said it also may amount to an unreported taxable fringe benefit. Congressmen, for example, must report as taxable income the value of their reserved parking spaces. If so, why not in-office housing? The live-ins add to the burden of the housekeeping and maintenance staffs, officials have said. At last count, 26 Republicans and seven Democrats were reported to be using their offices as bedrooms and using gym shower facilities.

BUNKING PARTYER: Tim Griffin is among those using his office as a residence.

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