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Reality Check: Which Lawmakers Collected Most Per Diem?

Published On: Feb 21 2008 07:46:10 AM CST   Updated On: Feb 22 2008 08:37:22 AM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

In a year where some called it the "do-nothing Legislature," lawmakers made more money than ever -- not through their salaries but by claiming an $88-a-day per diem just for showing up to work.

VIDEO: Watch The Report

"Reality Check" took at look that the total numbers of per diems lawmakers claimed. Here's a list starting at the bottom of the top 11 collectors.

Republican state Reps. Frank Lasee and Jerry Petrowski along with Republican state Sen. Scott Fitzgerald all claimed 150 days, totaling $13,200.

Five state Assembly representatives tied for spots No. 8 through No. 4. They are Democrats Gary Sherman, Marlin Schneider and Leon Young, along with Republican Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch and Joint Finance Committee co-chair Republican Kitty Rhoades. All took in $13,464, claiming the most days allowed under Assembly rules, WISC-TV reported.

Rhoades and Huebsch were on the conference committee involved in deciding the budget deadlock through the summer and fall. The top three in the per diem collections were also on that committee but aren't limited in the amount of per diem they claim in the Senate.

Democratic Sen. Bob Jauch picked up a total of $14,872 on top of his salary. Democratic Sen. Russ Decker, who took over as Senate Majority Leader in October, took in just more than $15,000.

Judy Robson, the former Senate Majority Leader, claimed 188 days for a total of $16,544.

There were lawmakers who claimed more days at the Capitol. Democratic Sens. Jon Erpenbach and Fred Risser both claimed more than 200 days worth of per diem, but because they're from Dane County, they're only paid $44 a day in per diem, WISC-TV reported.

Democratic Rep. Sheldon Wasserman claimed the least with just more than $3,100.

The total for all paid per diems in 2007 was more than $1.1 million of taxpayer dollars. The per diems are meant to pay for meals and lodging for lawmakers. All this is on top of a salary of more than $47,000.

All the payments are legal and within state rules. Legislators don't have to show any receipts to claim a per diem. They just have to submit that they were at work that day.

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