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Mike Lee now says he'll donate pay during shutdown

Published October 3, 2013 12:09 pm

Mike Lee • His office says original story on keeping his pay was 'wrong;' TV station posts audio of interview.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Jim Matheson plan to donate their congressional pay during the government shutdown, saying they shouldn't be paid when federal workers are not. Sen. Mike Lee — after previously telling a reporter he had no plan to stop taking his pay — also says he will contribute some of his pay to charity when the shutdown is ended.

They are among dozens of congress members saying they will donate their pay.

"I don't think that'd be appropriate" to take a paycheck, said Matheson, D-Utah, who says he plans to find a charity that will help Utahns who have been affected by the government closure.

Hatch, R-Utah, says he will give his congressional pay until the government is running to his faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"With the federal government shut down and many Utahns feeling the effects of it, Senator Hatch feels it's only right to donate his paycheck to the LDS Church," his spokesman Matt Harakal said.

The Washington Post listed dozens of members of Congress who have agreed to donate their pay as well. Rank-and-file House members and senators are paid $174,000 and the Constitution's 27th Amendment forbids changing their pay during a congressional term.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, says he plans to ask the House clerk to delay paying him until the shutdown ends.

Lee, who led the effort to attempt to stop Obamacare by tying it to the budget bill, told KUTV Tuesday night that he would take his salary because he is working and had no plan to stop taking it like a growing number of colleagues.

A spokesman on Wednesday told BuzzFeed that "Lee will donate to charity for every day of the shutdown." The spokesman told the website that the KUTV story was "wrong," and that the senator had always intended to donate, although his response may have been somewhat muddy.

KUTV on Wednesday stood by its original report and posted audio of its interview with Lee.

A Lee office statement on the BuzzFeed website indicated that the charitable contributions would be made after the shutdown is concluded.

Congress remains in session, though neither Republicans or Democrats appear to be budging from their positions, leaving no end in sight of the shutdown.

tburr@sltrib.com