Nearly 2,000 House of Representative staffers pulled down six-figure salaries in 2009, including 43 staffers who earned the maximum $172,500 — or more than three times the median U.S. household income.
The 43 staffers who maxed out at $172,500 — the salary cap for leadership and committee staffers — include John Lawrence, chief of staff to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Paula Nowakowski, the late chief of staff to House Minority Leader John Boehner; and House Parliamentarian John Sullivan. They earned only slightly less than rank-and-file members of Congress, who make $174,000.
But while these top earners are a small percentage of the overall congressional work force, their numbers are growing at a rapid rate under the Democratic Congress. The number of staffers earning within the upper 3 percent of House salaries — currently $163,358 or more — has increased by nearly 39 percent in the past four years, according to LegiStorm data. In 2005, there were 203 staffers earning in the top 3 percent. That number spiked to 304 people in 2008 but then dropped in 2009 to 282, likely caused in part by the economic downturn.
Mike Riggs Contributor