Congress is in recess — and has been for close to two months — with a lighter workload than usual for many congressional staffers. But many of those staffers are just out working on campaigns, which critics say crosses a line.
With the election just a day away, both presidential candidates are hitting swing states like Iowa to make their last minute appeals at rallies like the one Vice President Joe Biden appeared at in Fort Dodge, Iowa last week. To get campaign events off the ground takes a lot of volunteers — and many of the most trusted come from Washington.
"Every two years there's a large migration from Capitol Hill to the campaign trail," says Jock Friedly, president of Legistorm, which tracks congressional staffers.
There's no way to tell how many Hill staffers are working on campaigns until later in the year. But lawmakers and staffers often blur the line between their government duties and partisan politicking, Friedly says. The data Legistorm has collected makes it seem like lawmakers reward those staffers for their campaign work, Friedly adds.
"We've certainly seen staff who have been gone for much of the year, show up in November or December after the campaign and get large bonuses," Friedly says. "And that doesn't sit right and raises very obvious questions about whether that really was a campaign bonus or a government bonus."
After Tuesday's election, lawmakers will come back to D.C. for the lame duck session of Congress. So will hundreds of Hill staffers, many of whom will be looking to be rewarded for slogging it out on the campaign trail.