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Airing Legislators' Clean Laundry: Should Dry Cleaning be Expensable?

After an Associated Press report highlighted expenses submitted by Washington legislators since 2011, former 5th District Rep. Glenn Anderson says dry cleaning is a reasonable and allowed expense for traveling Washington legislators.

Glenn Anderson, a former 5th District state Representative, says expenses he submitted for dry cleaning while serving, reported today by the Associated Press,  were allowable and also reasonable.

The AP story, versions of which were published on KIRO 7 and The Olympian Tuesday morning, calls out Anderson among a list of 19 legislators, both Republican and Democrat, who submitted dry cleaning expenses. Anderson, a Republican from Fall City, submitted $265.19 since the beginning of 2011. The story is critical of legislators such as Rep. Gary Alexander (R-Olympia), who submitted such expenses while calling for lower government spending.

Anderson told Patch that the expenses he submitted during his tenure were all remibursable by the state, and a traveling legislator has a certain reasonable need to ensure that his clothes are clean for legislative sessions. He called the attention to such minor expenses as cleaning and office directions odd when the state faces a huge deficit.

"It's like looking for a cat when there's a lion running around the room," Anderson said. "We've got a billion-dollar deficit and we're focusing on the cost of a picture frame?"

A state representative gets paid about $42,000 a year for a parttime position, but must travel from other cities to Olympia, Anderson said, noting that in some districts that might be a good salary when considering the local cost of living, and not such a high salary in other districts.

"I can't speak for the reimbursement policy, but the IRS says you can’t take (dry cleaning) as an unreimbursed expense, but your employer can reimburse you for it," Anderson said.

Anderson, who is taking a break from politics after an unsuccessful bid for state Lt. Gov., said the company that benefits most from such reimbursements is probably Starbucks, because lawmakers are constantly buying reimbursable coffee there as they meet with constituents.

Tell us: Do you think lawmakers should be able to expense items like cleaning and office decor?

woodyiii January 29, 2013 at 10:15 PM
It is OK they expensed for Dry Cleaning if it is an allowed expense. If we don't like that we can call a representative and have a bill dropped or redo the expense policy. Easy enough. BUT - do you really want them focusing on this? Does the media really want to focus on this given what we should be focusing on? Wow!
Jeanne Gustafson January 29, 2013 at 11:19 PM
Thanks for your comments, woodyiii. Since Glenn Anderson's name was published on the list, we wanted to give him the opportunity to comment on the premise proposed by the AP story. I will say, sometimes, I think, people may not know to call their representative about things like the expenses policy until a story about just what's in the policy comes out because they have no idea what's being reimbursed.
Lise Quinn February 01, 2013 at 09:58 PM
Really? I work for the state, can I submit my laundry costs and have them covered? I'm sure my manager would like me to come to work in clean clothes. This is absurd. He would have to have clean clothes anyways. You say this is small potatoes, but really it demonstrates a culture of abusing the intent behind reimbursements and in serving as a legislator. He is not a poor man. Playing for his own cleaning won't bankrupt him or take food out of his mouth. Being a legislator is not considered a full time job here and it shouldn't be. He has other income. He's a 'consultant'!

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