Ellmers changes mind on pay
Posted October 4, 2013
Washington — After an avalanche of punishing feedback on social and mainstream media, 2nd District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers said Friday that she will request that her paycheck be withheld until the federal shutdown is resolved.
The Dunn Republican sparked controversy when she told media outlets she planned to accept her congressional paycheck, despite having voted for the shutdown that has left thousands of federal workers without paychecks in Ellmers' own district.
On CNN Friday morning, Ellmers elaborated on her earlier comments, saying she needs her paycheck to meet her financial obligations.
Ellmers' husband is a surgeon, but according to data compiled by OpenSecrets.org, a website run by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, she's among the least wealthy members of Congress, with a negative average net worth over the past three years.
Nonetheless, Ellmers' Facebook page blew up Friday morning with thousands of angry comments about her decision.
Greg Garcia wrote, "Since you're refusing to defer your paycheck, or give it to charity, can me and about 7,000 coworkers hit you up for a loan?"
"How is it that the wife of a Dr. 'needs' her paycheck, but your constituents don't? Get over yourself," commented L.A. Oldham.
Shortly after 2 p.m. Friday, Ellmers' office issued a statement in which, after blaming the Obama administration and congressional Democrats for the shutdown, she changed her position:
"I believe these issues will be resolved before November 1st. However, in the unfortunate event that they do not come to the table, I will stand with all federal workers and have my paycheck withheld," the statement said.
"Today I sent a letter to the House Chief Administrative Officer, asking that my paycheck be withheld while the government is shutdown."
Ellmers' fellow Republican, 6th District Congressman Howard Coble, still plans to accept his paycheck.
Coble "does not participate in the congressional pension program. So, for 29 years, taxpayers have not been contributing to his retirement fund," said Coble aide Ed McDonald.
Among the rest of the state's congressional delegation, Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan and Reps. David Price, Patrick McHenry and Robert Pittenger all say they'll donate their pay during the shutdown to charity. None immediately identified which charity the money would go to.
Burr, McHenry and Pittenger are Republicans, while Hagan and Price are Democrats.
Republican Reps. George Holding, Mark Meadows, Virginia Foxx and Richard Hudson and Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre say they've requested that their paychecks be withheld.
Any member of Congress who defers payment will be eligible to obtain back pay once the new budget is passed and the shutdown is over.
Democratic Reps. G.K. Butterfield and Mel Watt and Republican Rep. Walter Jones didn't respond to inquiries about their plans.