Chip Cravaack: Taxpayers are paying more than $1,000 a month for his 2011 Chevy Equinox

Cravaack's fiscal discipline only extends so far.
Cravaack's fiscal discipline only extends so far.

Chip Cravaack has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, the 'no tax increases ever for any reason' manifesto put together by anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist.

But there is apparently at least one tax increase Cravaack, an embattled first-term U.S. Representative for northeastern Minnesota's 8th congressional district, is alright with.

According to a Think Progress analysis of the House of Representatives' official Statement of Disbursements, Cravaack is charging taxpayers more than $1,000 a month to pay the lease on his 2011 Chevy Equinox, a crossover SUV with all-wheel drive.

Think Progress honed in on the personal vehicle expenditures for seven Tea Party-affiliated freshman Republican Representatives. The report notes that while "there is nothing illegal about the practice of using taxpayer money to lease personal-use cars, [it] smacks of hypocrisy for Tea Partiers [who] promised to 'lead by example' when it comes to deficit reduction."

Cravaack's vehicle of choice.
Cravaack's vehicle of choice.

By that standard, Cravaack's hypocrisy is unsurpassed. In the past year and a half, he's spent $25,581 in public money on cars -- more than any of the seven Tea Party freshman Think Progress subjected to close scrutiny.

Many political observers believe Cravaack is a vulnerable target for his DFL challengers in the historically left-leaning 8th, but a fundraising report released yesterday indicates he has a substantial fundraising lead over his opponents.

According to the report, at the end of last month, Cravaack had almost $900,000, compared to just $259,000 for former DFL state Senator Sen. Tarryl Clark. Clark is the favorite to defeat her two Democratic primary opponents, former Duluth City Councilor Jeff Anderson and former state Rep. Rick Nolan.

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