Influential democrat Gregory Meeks says his bank account is hovering near empty, but if that’s the case why is he spending nights at the Ritz Carlton? A Times piece exposed the Congressman’s considerable expenses which, in addition to pricey hotel stays, include a Lexus leased by the government (for $1,000/month), meals at trendy restaurants and a $1 million home in Queens built by a campaign contributor. “When it was getting built, I thought it was going to be four houses,” said a neighbor.

Meeks defends himself, saying operating among Washington bigwigs requires him to live large. To that end, he said “I do fund-raisers where the people with the money are,” he said, “I am not going to raise the money in my district that I need to be a player here in Washington.” Still, critics are calling his spending “a pattern,” since he was previously investigated in 2008 for misusing campaign funds, and recently for allegedly pocketing money raised for Katrina victims. “If a member of Congress wants an expensive lifestyle, he should have chosen a different career,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.