Hello Philly, can you hear us? Voters in state Rep. Mark Cohen’s district, do you care? Your legislator is once again atop the list of lawmakers taking per diems – by a lot.
The Democratic legislator from the 202nd District claimed $39,333.75 in 2011, according to records released by the House Comptroller’s office.
Per diems are supposed to cover meal and lodging expenses for lawmakers on official business. It’s mostly tax-free money, paid for by taxpayers. Receipts are not required; it’s a federally set number ($158/day in 2011) and legislators get it whether they actually spend that much or not.
It is a legitimate practice, but Cohen’s expenses are not, according to good-government watchdogs and at least one fellow lawmaker. More from him in a moment. But let’s back up. How does one guy rack up nearly $40,000 in per diems and expenses in one year?
abc27 News crunched the numbers on 20 pages of per diem and expense requests and broke out a calendar from 2011. Here’s the month-by-month analysis from 2011: Read more.