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Ex-Rep. Todd Akin doubled staff salaries after defeat

Monday, April 1, 2013 | 4:59 p.m. CDT; updated 5:14 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 1, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY — Former U.S. Rep. Todd Akin provided departing bonuses that roughly doubled the salaries of his office staff after the Missouri Republican lost a challenge to Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in last year's elections.

Akin's former spokesman said Monday that the extra pay essentially served as a "separation package" for staff who had endured a rough several months and had lost their jobs as a result of Akin's defeat.

"I don't think its atypical for members, if they've had an unsuccessful run, to possibly help out their staff a bit for the transition," said Steve Taylor, Akin's former district director and communications director.

Akin, from suburban St. Louis, won a contentious Republican primary in August but soon derailed his Senate campaign when he said during a nationally televised interview that he believed women's bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy in cases of what he called "legitimate rape." Criticism was quick, and though Akin apologized, he rejected calls of top national Republicans to quit the race. He was easily defeated by McCaskill, who used Akin's remark in TV ads.

Akin paid his 14-person congressional staff $391,987 during the fourth quarter of 2012, which spanned from October through December, according to legislative salary figures available through the online tracking site Legistorm.com.

That's about double the $188,997 paid to Akin's staff during the previous quarter and also almost twice the roughly $200,000 average quarterly payroll for Akin's staff throughout the rest of the year.

It's not unusual for some lawmakers to give their staff members more money at the end of the year. Although Akin's staff received no year-end salary bump in 2011, when he was running for Senate, records kept by Legistorm.com show that Akin paid his staff anywhere from 12 percent to 44 percent more during the fourth-quarter throughout most of his 12-year career in Congress.

But even those year-end payments pale in comparison to the final paychecks received by Akin's staff in 2012.

Kevin Roach, who worked part time in Akin's congressional office and served as finance director for his Senate campaign, received $2,267 in federal payments during each of the first three quarters of 2012. But Roach was paid $28,824 by Akin's congressional office during the final quarter.

Roach did not immediately return a message left Monday at what appeared to be his home phone number.

Taylor said he does not recall Roach taking on any additional duties in the congressional office after the election.

"Given the nature of the campaign, and people losing their (congressional) jobs, what informed the last payment structure was more that people would be transitioning than performance-based," said Taylor, who now is studying for a master's degree in mathematics with an eye toward teaching.

Taylor received $34,985 during the final quarter of 2012 — a 36 percent increase over his quarterly pay for the rest of the year.

Some of the pay could perhaps be considered compensation for a rough working environment. After Akin's "legitimate rape" remark, the congressman and his staff received numerous hateful messages, including threats, Taylor has said.

During Akin's career, the congressman returned more than $1 million of unused office pay to the U.S. House, Taylor said.

Yet the large boost in staff pay could be viewed as hypocritical, said Ken Warren, a political science professor at Saint Louis University.

"It's inconsistent with his philosophy as a fiscal conservative, a tea party guy that has been charging for years that government wastes the money of taxpayers," Warren said.


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