Hold judgment on his staff’s pay, Rep. Tipton says

Comparisons to other freshmen not valid until year's end, he says

Scott Tipton

Wait until the end of the year before judging whether U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton is paying his staff too much, the freshman congressman said Wednesday.

Tipton was responding to criticism from Monday’s release of congressional staff salaries, which showed he is paying the most of the 94 newest U.S. representatives.

But the Cortez Republican said it’s too soon to judge whether his spending is over the top.

“Unlike some of the freshman offices that have yet to fill key positions following last November’s election, I made it clear to my transition team that both my D.C. office and offices throughout the district were to be fully staffed, trained and open to constituents on the first day of the new Congress,” Tipton said in an email.

The website, Legistorm.com, which tracks congressional staff pay on a quarterly basis, showed Tipton led the 93 other freshmen in staff pay in the first three months of the year. Tipton’s 21 staffers earned $243,431. The average of all freshmen was $176,158.

The congressman’s staff pay is more than his two predecessors, formers Reps. John Salazar and Scott McInnis.

In the first quarter of 2000, the oldest data on the website, McInnis’ 18 staffers were paid $158,804. By his final quarter in office in 2004, that same-sized staff earned $216,848.

In Salazar’s first quarter in office in 2005, he paid 15 people $153,013. By the third quarter of 2010, before Tipton defeated him, Salazar’s 22 workers were paid a combined $238,192. Salazar was criticized later, however, for doling out nearly $100,000 in bonuses to those workers by year’s end, something most members of Congress have done in recent years.

“I’ve made a decision to invest up front in doing a good job, and I think everyone will be pleased with the fiscal efficiency demonstrated with full-year results, despite having one of the largest districts in the country,” Tipton said.

A check of pay to staffers of other, more senior members of Congress whose districts are as much as three times larger shows smaller staff sizes and combined pay that is about the same or less than Tipton’s.

In addition to his office in Washington, D.C., Tipton has four district offices, the same number Salazar maintained.

Colorado’s other freshman lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, paid 19 staffers $186,673 in the first quarter.


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