DENVER – Talk of tight government budgets has dominated mainstream political coverage for much of the last year. But discussions about belt-tightening on the campaign trail didn’t prevent several staffers on the payrolls of Colorado’s two U.S. Senators from collecting public sector salaries in the neighborhood of six-figures, according to congressional payroll data published by the non-partisan transparency clearinghouse Legistorm.
Michael Sozan, Chief of Staff to Colorado’s senior Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo.), was paid $150,833 in 2012. That was a slight increase above what Sozan’s earned in 2011, and some $60,000 more than the $90,000 salary John Hickenlooper received last year as Colorado’s governor.
Chief of Staff Jonathan Clements Davidson – Sozan’s counterpart in the office of junior Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) – also cleared six figures in 2012.
Davidson was paid $169,459 last year according to Legistorm – only slightly less than Bennet’s own U.S. Senate salary of $174,000. Bennet’s office also employed an Assistant to the Chief of Staff at cost of $32,625.
Both Udall and Bennet also employed a Deputy Chief of Staff last year.
Bennet’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Sarah Hughes, was paid $135,000 in 2012. Udall’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Joe Britton earned $135,000 in 2012 as well.
Congressional spending on salaries and other items has generated controversy in recent months, with some wondering about the message sent by such spending during lean economic times.
“The larger question – where will Congress show its own belt tightening when some of the dislocations caused by sequester begin to bite out in the country – is as yet unanswered,” Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute told the Washington Guardian in a recent story that explored congressional office spending.
In addition to Sozan and Britton, Udall’s Director of Outreach and Strategy Tara Trujillo ($98,775), Systems Administrator John Fossum ($110,000) and State Director Jennifer Rokala ($109,780) all received salaries in the six-figure range.
In addition to Davidson and Hughes, Bennet’s Deputy Legislative Director Brian Appel ($90,833), Communications Director Adam Bozzi ($93,311) and Administrative Director Mary Ann Perko ($135,000) all received salaries close to or exceeding six figures.
Legistorm lists the total amount Bennet’s paid in staff salaries for 2012 as $2,428,639. That’s less than Udall, who spent $2,661,072 on salaries last year, according to the site
Colorado workers made an average of $47,510 in 2011, according to an April report in the Denver Business Journal.