WASHINGTON -- Weeks after Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) made headlines for suggesting low-income students sweep cafeteria floors to learn there's "no such thing as free lunch," Savannah TV station WSAV 3 looked at the "free lunches" Kingston himself has received as a member of Congress.
There's no precise way to count the number of lunches Kingston has enjoyed on taxpayer dollars, but the station took a look at expense reports and disclosures to uncover staggering figures from the congressman's three years in office.
According to the station's investigation, Kingston and his staff have expensed $4,182 worth of "meals for business purposes," and recorded $4,289.33 in free meals from third-party interest groups, including the Congressional Institute and the Georgia Bankers Association.
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Kingston has traveled to four continents, racking up $24,313 in per diem allowances. While the allowances were allotted for more than just lunch money, midday meals were included.
When WSAV 3 asked Kingston whether he believes members of Congress "work hard," the congressman "defended his work ethic," saying he works 60 hours to 70 hours a week.
"That's what representative democracy is about, is members going to Washington, but coming home and answering the tough questions," Kingston told the station.
Beyond taxpayer dollars, Kingston has enjoyed many free meals on the campaign trail. WSAV 3 reported $145,391.26 in expensed meals and catering for campaign events, $26,066.45 of which was charged at the Republican Club of Capitol Hill, an exclusive, members only venue.
"Isn't this a free lunch?" a WSAV 3 reporter asked Kingston.
"This is what we need in America," Kingston responded. "We need workfare over welfare. I learned a lot when I was 14 and 15 years old doing chores inside and outside the household and as a result i grew up with a good work ethic. ... It's hard in today's society to have a discussion where you want to challenge the status quo because of the 'I gotcha' politics."