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Bustos says she “made a mistake,” won’t give up pay

Thursday, Sep 25, 2014

* Democratic Congresswoman Cheri Bustos met with the Quad-City Times editorial board and was asked about her 2012 promise to give up 10 percent of her congressional salary. She didn’t come off very well

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said Wednesday that she made a mistake two years ago by saying she’d cut her own pay if elected, but added that she is trustworthy and, in the end, what’s really important is getting results. […]

“It was a vigorous back and forth, and I said something I shouldn’t have said,” Bustos said. “You don’t make decisions like that without talking to your husband about it or anything else.”

Bustos said she did not intend to follow through on the matter, because “my pledge to the residents and the citizens of this district” was that she’d support legislation to cut lawmaker pay. “I did support that legislation,” she said. […]

“I work very hard. My word is good, and I have taken very, very seriously my reputation, my family’s reputation. I made a mistake. I’m sitting her telling you I made a mistake. I should not have said that,” Bustos said.

* Schilling campaign response…

Jon Schweppe, communications director at Bobby Schilling for Congress, said that Bustos should follow through on her promise, not apologize for getting caught breaking it.

“Congresswoman Bustos is wrong,” Schweppe said. “Her word isn’t good. She didn’t make a mistake—she made a promise. She made a promise and she broke it. If she wants to make good, she should give back the money. Period.

“And to say her word is good after everything she has ‘misspoken’ about—the shutdown pay, the investment in a Chinese company that ships American jobs overseas, the veterans cuts, the slanderous statements about Bobby Schilling’s employer—is almost laughable but mostly just sad at this point.”

* The Schilling campaign also has a new TV ad which addresses the matter

* Script…

Narrator: “Congresswoman Cheri Bustos refuses to be accountable for her promises and her votes. Bustos promised she’d cut her own pay by 10 percent, now she claims she ‘misspoke.’

Bustos cast a vote on House Joint Resolution 59 on December 12, 2013, a vote to cut veterans benefits by six billion.

After public outcry, Bustos voted to restore the cuts… will she now claim she ‘mis-voted?’ The facts don’t lie.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Geronimo - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 9:34 am:

    Acting like a true blue legislator. I’ll keep mine, let’s cut yours.

  2. - ANON - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 9:38 am:

    Interesting to see Schilling is still pushing the veterans pay cut after he was called out for ‘misleading voters.’

  3. - Ducky LaMoore - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 9:39 am:

    Cue up the Dragnet music… Dumb dumb dumb dumb… Dumb dumb dumb dumb dddduuuummmmbbbb
    Congrats to former and future Congressman Schilling.

  4. - fed up - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 9:40 am:

    So Bustos wanted the positive press for saying she would give up pay, without the actually giving up the pay. Interesting that she never thought it was important to “clarify” this lie until she was called out on it.

  5. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 9:41 am:

    “Penny-wise, campaign foolish”

    Given her pedigree, I am shocked that this Dopiness and this Hubris is driving the bus here.

  6. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 9:45 am:

    I am sorry to hear this.

    That 10% now may wind up costing her 100% later.

  7. - Willie Stark - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 9:49 am:

    Guessing she has poling that shows she can survive this hit? $174,000/year is well above the median for her district. If she had unexpected family expenses, maybe a relative who needed help, that could be a possible explanation for why she didn’t do it, but otherwise it seems an unnecessary risk to not do as she said.

  8. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 9:51 am:

    Bustos put the ball on the tee and then handed Schilling the bat.

  9. - OneMan - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 9:53 am:


    This is going to be campaign school case study someday…

  10. - OneMan - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:03 am:

    So her explanation is basically…

    It was campaign BS…

    guess that is being honest…

  11. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    As Forrest Gump might say:

    “Stubborn is as stubborn does”.

  12. - Ron Burgundy - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:16 am:

    Not sure if we can believe the admission either, since like the original promise it came before an editorial board, and not on the “campaign trail” to the voters.

  13. - Buckeye - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:20 am:

    She keeps digging the hole deeper.

    “You don’t make decisions like that without talking to your husband about it”

    Doesn’t this excuse just play into the stereotype of women who can’t make tough decisions on their own?

    This whole episode makes her look very bad, simply because she’d rather keep the money than keep her word.

  14. - Insideout - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:22 am:

    The fact is, voters in the area, besides those already rooting for x-congressman Schilling, care little about this issue. What we want to know is what Bobby Schilling would do different than last time he was our elected Congressman?

  15. - Wensicia - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:23 am:

    Well, since she’s willing to risk losing the seat over this single issue, I guess she needs to keep every penny left of her salary.

  16. - i miss illinois - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:24 am:

    She just keeps stepping in it. This is so odd coming from a professional communications director.

  17. - LincolnLounger - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    Very curious behavior from someone who ought to know better.

  18. - lil enchilada - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    Totally disappointed…

  19. - A guy... - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    Her husband won this argument. It’s probably been a pretty contentious scene around the homestead. Sad for that. You can mark the calendar with today’s date as being the day she lost the election. Ouch.

  20. - Publius - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:39 am:

    Well her husband just became the new Sheriff for Rock Island county after the previous one resigned in a scandal. I think her strategy is to stick it out and be stubborn. The other local pols haven’t and lost and I think she thinks she won’t lose. This could be her downfall

  21. - Aldyth - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:43 am:

    In local conversations, this isn’t being mentioned as a big deal for Bustos. Local Republicans are supporting Schilling, no matter what. Local Democrats are supporting Bustos, no matter what. Turnout will drive the results of this election.

  22. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    She should ask Bobby to match her contribution - that might put it to rest if he won’t. Other option might be to use campaign funds.

  23. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    == care little about this issue ==

    She just told the media, voters and her political supporters to stuff it. And that her word means nothing.

    If they do not care about it yet, they soon will. Inside baseball types on both sides may not care or see the impact of this, but independents and normal voters certainly will.

  24. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    Aldyth, are there no independents in your district? This kind of issue resonates with them far more than it does with party regulars and CapFax commenters, who make up only a small fraction of the overall electorate.

  25. - Ghost - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    Bustos killed the lucky albatross, and now is fated to wear it around her neck…..

  26. - ??? - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    Buckeye, I don’t think it’s a matter of stereotypes or an issue of “not being able to make tough decisions.” If a couple shares the household expenses, a 10% pay cut absolutely SHOULD be discussed with a spouse.

    But, aside from that, I agree 100% with you that she’s digging quite a hole for herself anc coming off looking very bad and disingenuous.

  27. - walker - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 11:00 am:

    What point is she trying to make?

  28. - i miss illinois - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 11:05 am:

    If you can’t trust a politician, nothing else matters.

  29. - Peoria guy - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    Well her husband just became the new Sheriff for ^^Rock Island county after the previous one resigned in a scandal. I think her strategy is to stick it out and be stubborn. The other local pols haven’t and lost and I think she thinks she won’t lose. This could be her downfall^^

    I suspect she thinks she can win without repaying the money back. She can have her cake and eat it too. It will be a close election. She may be right or it may be a huge mistake.

  30. - John Boch - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 11:28 am:

    Maybe she doesn’t have it to give $34,000 to charity…

    I mean, $174,000 isn’t that much after taxes, now is it? She’s probably just barely scraping by.

    10% now will cost her 100% later? We can only hope so for this politician who so blatantly reneges on a simple pledge.


  31. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    so her husband told her to just lie about it…?

  32. - Buckeye - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 12:04 pm:

    ???, there is so much to be confused about with her response to this whole situation.

    I agree, I discuss these things with my wife and I don’t think it’s indecisive. But I’m not sure what she was referring to–discussing making campaign promises in advance with her husband, or discussing paying it back with her husband, or discussing confessing to a mistake with her husband, or…

    Adding to the deeper mystery is that this really is chump change to the congresswoman. I mean, she’s not the only bread winner in the family. Her spouse also makes good money, so we’re probably talking 5% of their income. And she reported making over $300K/year in the private sector before congress and the kids are grown, so she’s probably got the money set aside somewhere…

    It’s sad that she got caught red-handed, and then to be so defiant in her response. Her word’s not good, and she doesn’t realize it.

    But it’s her story, and she’s sticking to it…

  33. - I B Strapped - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    “She just told the media, voters and her political supporters to stuff it. And that her word means nothing.”

    Translation-May mean nothing, could mean nothing, possibly means nothing, I didn’t mean it to mean nothing….I’ll get back to you on that…real soon-possibly!

  34. - Very Fed Up - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    Anyone who trusts a word coming from her mouth is a fool. Time to give her a 100% pay cut and vote her out.

  35. - ??? - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 12:47 pm:

    Buckeye - Ah. Got it. I just assumed you were referring to the decision about taking a 10% pay cut, but upon re-reading the post and seeing her reference to “a vigorous back and forth” followed by the vague “You don’t make decisions like that…” (like what?), I see where you’re coming from now.

  36. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 12:55 pm:

    It seems we are discovering that she just doesn’t care to be in Congress enough. Is she running because her party can’t find a replacement? How could anyone run a multi-million dollar campaign and quibble over this amount of money?

    No one is asking her to put up the amount in cash. No one is saying she has to do it today. All she needed to have done is apologize and pledge to pay it in the near future, and she can decide how near that future is.

    All she had to do is apologize. She can’t.

    She is nuts and unsuitable to be reelected, just based on what we have learned about her over the past month.

    Really, she just much NOT want the job.

  37. - Jake From Elwood - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 1:28 pm:

    I wonder how Rep. Bustos would feel if her campaign donors backed out on oral pledges to her campaign?
    Where you stand depends on where you sit.

  38. - i miss illinois - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 1:28 pm:

    I agree with Buckeye. She was making 300k a year at Iowa Health Systems and bought a new condo last year in DC. Her husband was making $140k at the time.

    She can afford to give back the money.

    This is arrogance or an extreme case of being out of touch. Possibly both.

  39. - Apocalypse Now - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 1:41 pm:

    Maybe, Bustos conferred with Hilary Clinton on how to handle the pay issue. Remember, Hillary said they were broke, when the left the White House.

  40. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    == ….I’ll get back to you on that…real soon-possibly! ==

    Like, right after election day! Maybe. If that’s not too late.

  41. - Tom Joad - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 3:48 pm:

    Several years ago Senator Chuck Percy was asked if he was going to release his tax returns. His response was that he would not release his returns because that would slow down the passing of any legislation designed to require all members to release their returns, which he supported. The same rationale applies to one legislator donating a part of their salary back to the Treasury. It would not make the difference that gaining momentum by holding one’s vote in abeyance would in obtaining a majority of votes to enact this into law. That would be a worthwhile result, instead of this game of “gotcha” to make a meaningless point in this election.

  42. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 3:57 pm:

    == The same rationale applies ==

    This was all part of a secret “plan” Mrs. Bustos put into motion long ago? To make a clear promise in front of the editorial board, seek good press from that promise, then break that promise and hope no one notices it?

    Such benevolence.

  43. - Responsa - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 4:18 pm:

    I love that she walked it back saying she should have discussed it with her husband first! That’s demonstrating very independent and inspiring decision making worthy of a congressman, Ms Bustos- NOT

  44. - Winning with Sheen - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 5:20 pm:


  45. - Esteban - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 8:02 pm:

    Poitical malpractice is always painful to watch.

  46. - ethicslover - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 8:11 pm:

    It is amazing that all Schilling campains on this
    cycle is a misstatenent by Bustos. Last election cycle he campaigned on lies about where Cheri Bustos lives and a country club she didn’t belong to. He has no vision whatsoever.

  47. - dr. reason a. goodwin - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 9:10 pm:

    I know almost nothing about these candidates (like most voters). This would absolutely cause me to NOT vote for her. I can’t imagine electing someone who would blatantly do this.

  48. - Anony - Thursday, Sep 25, 14 @ 10:19 pm:

    This election will be a pretty good test of MJM’s redistricting strategy. It worked like a charm in 2012, but will the seats hold up in a midterm? Should they have sacrificed another seat to give the remaining Dems more of a cushion?

  49. - T.J. - Friday, Sep 26, 14 @ 1:41 am:

    “It is amazing that all Schilling campains on this
    cycle is a misstatenent by Bustos. Last election cycle he campaigned on lies about where Cheri Bustos lives and a country club she didn’t belong to. He has no vision whatsoever.”

    Oh, well, gee. That makes it totally cool she lied then.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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