Conservative politicians like Rick Santorum are always telling us how they are the ones to be trusted to spend our tax dollars wisely. Yet today’s record federal budget deficit tells a very different story. The damage so-called “conservatives” have done to our federal Treasury borders on obscene.
In the case of Rick Santorum, the fiscal sleight-of-hand is quite personal. In public, he rails against funding for programs that help other families, but in private he takes every advantage he can for himself and his own family.
Look at how he deceived a struggling school district in Pennsylvania into to paying $100,000 for cyber-school tuition for his five children – even while they were living in a well-off school district in Virginia.
That’s right. Between 2001 and 2004, Santorum enrolled five of his children in the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School. Since Pennsylvania law requires school districts to pay for students who live in their district but enroll in cyber schools – and since Santorum claimed his residence was a house in Penn Hills, Allegheny County – the Penn Hills School District paid $100,000 for the Santorum children’s tuition.
But wait a minute – it turns out Rick Santorum, his wife, and their children don’t actually live in Penn Hills...in Allegheny County...or even in Pennsylvania. They actually live in a big house he owns in Leesburg, Virginia.
Sure, Santorum is registered to vote in Pennsylvania, in Penn Hills, and both his driver’s license and his car registration are at that address. But the Santorums really live in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Leesburg, Virginia. The only people who live in that two-bedroom house in Penn Hills are Santorum’s niece, Alyssa DeLuca and her husband.
After this nice little “arrangement” came to light, Santorum told KDKA Radio that his niece lives in and “looks after” the Penn Hills house when he’s not there. He also admitted that when he goes to Pennsylvania, he and most of the family usually stay somewhere else -- with his in-laws -- while his niece and her husband keep “watching” the house:
“We have a nice arrangement there. It works out well. Candidly, we just sort of work it out. Sometimes, a couple of my kids stay over there [with the niece and her husband]. We get to stay at grandma’s house, and a couple of kids go over and stay with their cousin. To me, that’s a family situation. I don’t know what people’s business that is, to be very honest with you. The fact is, I own a home, pay taxes, reside here, go to jury duty. To me, this is much ado about nothing.”
But $100,000 paid for by local property taxes isn’t nothing. So under public pressure Santorum withdrew his children from the cyber school, but refused to reimburse the Penn Hills School District.
“Why do I owe them money for a bill they approved that was lawful? I don’t owe them anything.”
Santorum’s wife, Karen, now home schools the children (presumably in Virginia). And the Penn Hills School District has had to go to court to get back the $100,000 – spending even MORE time and MORE taxpayer dollars to get back money Santorum never should have pursued in the first place.
“It’s the hypocrisy, stupid.”
Back in 1990, when Santorum first ran for Congress, he attacked his Democratic opponent, Doug Walgren, for living in McLean, Virginia. Here’s how Roll Call described a 1990 Santorum television ad:
“Santorum’s spot is the essence of simplicity. Strange music plays while a picture of an attractive white house is shown. The announcer says, ‘There’s something strange about this house.’ The reason is because Walgren lives in McLean, which is ‘the wealthiest area of Virginia’ rather than his suburban district.”
Now that he’s made himself at home in Washington, Rick Santorum seems to think the rules are different for him. But once you see reality behind Rick Santorum exposed, his rhetoric reeks of hypocrisy. And after a dozen years in the Senate, it makes you wonder…how come life is good for Rick Santorum, but hasn’t gotten any better for most Pennsylvanians?