The legality of bonuses might not be resolved for some time. But it’s clear that they were wrong, handled “off the books” like some kind of “black ops” effort. The public had no idea when it saw a salary for a legislative staffer that, in fact, the staffer was secretly making $5,000 to $25,000 more.
The bonuses also were wrong because of the appearance they created. Legislative staffers who spent weeks or months on the campaign trail were rewarded with tax dollars at the end of the year.
The bonuses flunk the smell test even if they were legal.
You will note that this is the reason why bonuses – and legislative leadership accounts – are targeted it as “unhealthy spending” in our report Government on a Diet. Even if the bonuses don’t represent criminal activity, their is no justification for a pot of money that legislative leaders can dole out arbitrarily.