Iverson’s two hats

February 21, 2008
With Erik Iverson playing dual roles as both Chief of Staff for Congressman Denny Rehberg and Chairman for the state Republican Party, Montanans might be wondering if a portion of their federal tax dollars are helping foot the bill for the GOP work.

“It’s not the role of taxpayers to subsidize or pay for the work of either party,” says Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Art Noonan. “It’s difficult to tell if that’s not what’s going on here.”

According to federal filings, Iverson draws a $160,000 salary as Rehberg’s Chief of Staff. His state party chairmanship is non-paying.

“He volunteers as chair, and that’s how it’s always been,” explains Montana Republican Party Executive Director Chris Wilcox.

“We hear of this from time to time,” says Massie Ritsch from the Center for Responsive Politics, “Congressional staff members have a vested interest in getting their boss re-elected,” which sometimes leads them to do volunteer work on the side for a re-election effort.

For critics like Noonan, Iverson’s volunteerism isn’t the issue.

“His volunteering as chair—that’s not unusual,” Noonan says. What concerns him, he says, is “the intermingling of the political business of the party with government work done for the taxpayers.”

Where does Iverson’s position as Rehberg’s key staffer end, and where does the state party chairmanship begin?

“Who pays for his phone calls about party business when he’s at work in D.C.?” asks Noonan, “How much time does he spend in the state? Where does he actually live? Where is the documentation that he’s not using senate staff, office resources, travel budget, or phone lines for his state party work?”

State filings show Iverson received less than $500 in travel reimbursements for 2007 and keeps at least one legal address in Missoula. Federal and state filings showing Iverson’s recent travel, hotel, and phone charges are not yet available; the ones that are available only detail Iverson’s travels through 2005.

Accounting for these activities is tough, says Ritsch. “We just don’t have a lot of data on it because it’s pretty difficult to research.”

Comments (2)

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This isn't about questioning someone's volunteerism High Plains Drifter... It's about questioning what taxpayers are getting for their money. I'd imagine that anyone asking Dennis McDonald about the demands of his job as MDT chairman would hear that it's more than a full time job. Thankfully, he's not having the public pick up the tab for his time. On the other hand, we've got Erik Iverson making more than the chiefs of staff for every House and Senate member in Montana and our bordering states. Ignoring the fact that Senate COS manage much larger numbers of employees and responsibilities, Iverson's salary is outlandish in comparison to his neighboring counterparts when one considers the time he must spend in Montana and away from the job. Much in the theme of Montana's delegation posting their schedules online for transparency, I think Erik Iverson should start posting his work schedule online so us Montana taxpayers know that we're paying for a congressional chief of staff and not a party operative.

Posted by Lamnidae on 02/24/2008 at 5:39 PM

I think it humorous that the only thing that the Dems can find to whine about Rehbergs office is that his staff volunteers too much. You might get off your dead butt and try it Art, it's amazing how good it feels to do something for the betterment of society and not have to be paid by some gov program to do it. Is this the dem's way of "punishing" Iverson because he made thier leader Mcdonalds look like a complete idiot in a TV debate? I'm sure there are other Rehbergs staff that also do dasterdly things such as volunteer work at the food bank, senior centers and nursing homes. Go get em Art, and take mcdonalds with you on this downward spiral. Oh, I forgot, he's leading you...

Posted by High Plains Drifter on 02/21/2008 at 9:31 AM
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