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Marketplace

Some political offices come with a rent bill

Katie Orr Mar 23, 2015
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California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom’s office in the state Capitol has wood paneled walls, heavy drapes, a massive wooden desk dominating the room – and a rental charge of $110,000 a year.

If you’re surprised to hear that, you’re not alone. So was Newsom.

“Absolutely surprised,” says Newsom. “Tried to get a reduction in rent, didn’t work so well!”

It turns out Newsom’s situation isn’t unique. Ray Walton is the former Executive Director of the National Association of State Chief Administrators.

“It’s pretty common for states around the country to charge what might be termed rent, but is more accurately probably characterized as maintenance and custodial care for the space,” he says.

But Newsom says he wasn’t aware he’d have to rent the office when he was first elected. And with a budget of just about one million dollars, he had to find savings in other places. So a few years back, Newsom closed his satellite offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles and rented a desk at a co-working space for tech startups in San Francisco called “The Founders Den.”

He pays $500 a month. Along with the desk, there’s also a chair and a filing cabinet. But there’s something missing: a computer.

“I have no computer, I have a smart phone. Laptops seem so 20th century,” Newsom says.

It should be noted there’s no computer in his Capitol office either. Not that he spends much time there. Newsom is only in the Capitol about one day a week. Which can make that $110,000 a year rent seem pretty high. But he says he’d never give up the office.

“No, ’cause I love going up there,” he says. “I don’t like it, I love it. I mean I really do. It’s so much fun.”

Newsom has announced he’ll run for Governor in 2018. If he wins, he’ll get to move into the office across the hall, which, aside from its other obvious benefits, has one more selling point: the Governor doesn’t have to pay rent.

 

 

 

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