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POLI 304: Congress: Expenses

Course guide for POLI 304: Congress taught by Renee Van Vechten, Fall 2021

Expenditure reports

A person holding a large stack of $20 bills

Representatives running for election and reelection must disclose their campaign expenses according to FEC regulations. These filings are available through the fec.gov website and are mined by non-profit organizations such as Open Secrets and Project Vote Smart.

Representatives have also been required to disclose their expenses to the Chief Administrative Officer of the House since 1964. Expenses are published in a quarterly disbursements report on the CAO's website.

Staff salaries are one of a Representative's largest expenses. Perusing disbursement reports allows you to establish the names and salaries of paid staffers working for your Representative.

 

"Money money" by Stephen Depolo is licensed to Michigan Public Radio under a Creative Commons license.

You can browse the disbursement report in PDF format. Representatives are listed in alphabetical order by last name and the report is divided into three PDF files:

Part 1 contains members with last names starting with ABR-GON.

Part 2 contains last names GON-ROS.

Part 3 contains last names ROS-ZEL and an index of all House employees.

House Disbursement Report for Rep. Aguilar

For example, Rep. Aguilar's expenses are listed on p. 208 of the report. He spent $491,251 on personnel compensation in 2021 including paid staff and interns (who are listed in the document).

Alternatively, you can download the complete disbursement report ("SOD detail transactions") as a single, 16 MB CSV file and search for your representative's name.

Our example

Representative Pete Aguilar of California

Rep. Pete Aguilar of the California 31st Congressional District - University of Redlands' home district - is our example Representative for the sample searches throughout this guide.

Practice finding information on Rep. Aguilar so that you can apply similar strategies to learn about your member once you've received the assignment.