The Chad Adams show become “The Bob Steinburg Show” today. The alleged “voice of North Carolina conservatives” turned the mike, and control of his show, over to the embattled legislator for a 45-minute unchallenged (1) rant about me and this site and (2) parade of falsehoods and exaggerations that should make the pointy-heads at McClatchy’s Politifact explode. Today’s show evoked memories of the lazy interview stylings of one Larry King and one Barbara Walters (“If you wuh a twee, what kind of twee would you be?”).
Everybody does it? Steinburg tried to make Adams’s six listeners believe that EVERYBODY takes seven days of per diem. It’s in the statutes, he tells us. This section of the statutes, posted on the General Assembly web site, addresses salaries but not per diem.
Per diem does come up in another part of the statutes:
§ 120-3.1. Subsistence and travel allowances for members of the General Assembly.
(a) In addition to compensation for their services, members of the General Assembly shall be paid the following allowances:
(1) A weekly travel allowance for each week or fraction thereof that the General Assembly is in regular or extra session. The amount of the weekly travel allowance shall be calculated for each member by multiplying the actual round-trip mileage from that member’s home to the City of Raleigh by the rate per mile which is the business standard mileage rate set by the Internal Revenue Service in Rev. Proc. 93-51, December 27, 1993.
(2) A travel allowance at the rate which is the business standard mileage rate set by the Internal Revenue Service in Rev. Proc. 93-51, December 27, 1993, whenever the member travels, whether in or out of session, as a representative of the General Assembly or of its committees or commissions, with the approval of the Legislative Services Commission.
(3) A subsistence allowance for meals and lodging at a daily rate equal to the maximum per diem rate for federal employees traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina, as set out at 58 Federal Register 67959 (December 22, 1993), while the General Assembly is in session and, except as otherwise provided in this subdivision, while the General Assembly is not in session when, with the approval of the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the case of Representatives or the President Pro Tempore of the Senate in case of Senators, the member is:
a. Traveling as a representative of the General Assembly or of its committees or commissions, or
b. Otherwise in the service of the State.
A member who is authorized to travel, whether in or out of session, within the United States outside North Carolina, may elect to receive, in lieu of the amount provided in the preceding paragraph, a subsistence allowance of twenty-six dollars ($26.00) a day for meals, plus actual expenses for lodging when evidenced by a receipt satisfactory to the Legislative Services Officer, the latter not to exceed the maximum per diem rate for federal employees traveling to the same place, as set out at 58 Federal Register 67950-67964 (December 22, 1993) and at 59 Federal Register 23702-23709 (May 6, 1994).
(4) A member may be reimbursed for registration fees as permitted by the Legislative Services Commission.
(b) Payment of travel and subsistence allowances shall be made to members of the General Assembly only after certification by the claimant as to the correctness thereof on forms prescribed by the Legislative Services Commission. Claims for travel and subsistence payments shall be paid at such times as may be prescribed by the Legislative Services Commission.
(c) When the General Assembly by joint action of the two houses adjourns to a day certain, which day is more than three days after the date of adjournment, the period between the date of adjournment and the date of reconvening shall for the purposes of this section be deemed to be a period when the General Assembly is not in session, and no member shall be entitled to subsistence and travel allowance during that period, except under circumstances which would entitle him to subsistence and travel allowance when the General Assembly is not in session. […]
*Hmmm. So, no per diem for hanging out at your house in Edenton on Saturday and Sunday watching football?*
Steinburg, on today’s edition of ‘The Bob Steinburg Show’, claimed that his per diem payments are no different than anyone else. He gets seven days of per diem every week, just like everyone else, in accordance with the statutes.
Let’s go back to the most recent Monkey Business Report:
[…] The week of January 25th – Steinburg collected $728, indicating seven days of work. According to the legislative calendar, the House was only in session January 25 and January 29.
The committee he chairs, Agriculture and Forestry Awareness Study Commission, had a meeting scheduled on January 30. […]
I spoke with two current legislators who recalled a warning from Speaker Tim Moore during a caucus meeting around the time of the January session. Both said Moore told assembled Republicans to only take per diem for the days in Raleigh — and nothing more. Said one of my legislator sources:
“He told us he knew we were under the microscope. Steinburg was in the room. After Moore said that, Steinburg turned to another member and said ‘Forget that. I’m taking all the money. We don’t get paid enough!’ “
On his radio show on Wednesday, Steinburg claimed it was a regular — no big deal — occurrence to take seven days of per diem at a time. On December 13 and 14 of 2017, records indicate Steinburg took mileage but no per diem.
From August through November 2017, records show Steinburg took daily per diem payments — but no seven day lump sums. In fact, for August 4-17 of 2017, Steinburg took NO per diem or mileage payments. So, even his own personal records don’t back up his claim that everyone takes seven days every time.
An issue of credibility. Steinburg claims our reporting on him has something to do with my “buddy” Jordan. My “buddies” tend to be people I’ve actually had conversations with and could recognize if I bumped into them on the street. I don’t know this person he says is my buddy. And even if I did, how does it take away from the credibility of the information?
If he, or anyone else, checks with the legislature’s admin offices, they will find that a public record request for Steinburg’s files was made by a North Carolina taxpayer from the western part of the state (not named Jordan).
I spoke with a legislative assistant today about Steinburg’s comments. She told me — when she clerks for committee meetings — she regularly has members fill out forms to cover the per diem. Once again, shooting down Steinburg’s claim of automatic payments.
Steinburg’s own words on his own radio show today don’t match up to what legislative payroll records say.
His posted comment on our site in 2017 helped bring about this latest scrutiny. When you claim you don’t take a dime more than the $13K salary and you’re going to instill fear in anyone who does, and you end up taking an average of $17K per year above and beyond your salary, stuff like this happens. It’s not the fault of your perceived foes. They didn’t fill out those forms seeking taxpayer money.