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?