Cheri Bustos (D) and Bobby Schilling (R) are engaged in a rematch of their 2012 Congressional race to represent Illinois’s 17th Congressional district. Schilling rode the wave election of 2010 to a stunning victory over Phil Hare. Then in 2012, Bustos rode Obama’s coattails and an unfavorably redrawn district to a victory over Schilling. During the course of that campaign the candidates conducted an interview with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune. In this interview, Bustos unequivocally indicated that she would support a 10% decrease in Congressional pay and would voluntarily return 10% of her personal Congressional pay even if Congress did not reduce their own pay. The audio is very clear and she left no room for ambiguity:
Cheri Bustos: “And I’m saying, though, this is a vote. That every member of Congress takes a 10 percent pay cut, and there’s a pay freeze until we—we get this under…”
Interviewer: “I’m sorry, I’m confused. Are you—if you’re elected—are you saying to whoever the HR department is—”keep 10 percent of my pay.” Are you—it’s yes or no. Are you going to voluntarily give up ten percent of your salary?”
Cheri Bustos: “I’m saying that—yes. And I would—I would take a—I would propose that there is a vote to cut 10 percent of the pay for every member of Congress.”
Interviewer: “But you would do it regardless?”
Cheri Bustos: “I’m sorry?”
Interviewer: “You would do it regardless of how the vote turns out?”
Cheri Bustos: “Yes.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Democrat Cheri Bustos suddenly does not want to return the $34,800 she promised to voluntarily surrender. Her campaign’s explanation is laughable:
Bustos’ campaign manager, Jeremy Jansen, said she “misspoke,” adding that Wednesday was the first time he heard the recording.
“Cheri Bustos has been a leader in fighting for more Congressional accountability, which is why she voted for the No Budget, No Pay Act, which forced members like herself to put skin in the game and prevented them from collecting any pay until they did their jobs and passed a budget,” Jansen wrote in an email. “Cheri misspoke in the midst of a discussion regarding budget proposals similar to this, but to that end supports legislation that would cut lawmakers’ pay 10 percent and looks forward to it coming up for a vote.”
If at all possible, I encourage you to listen to the audio yourself to see just how painstakingly clear the interviewers made the question to Bustos. She did not at all misspeak or misunderstand the question, and if she did, then she lacks the ability to speak functional English. She made a promise on the campaign trail that she had no intention of keeping, which calls into question her essential truthfulness with the voters.
Oh, and by the way: Bobby Schilling for Congress.