Wisconsin Dems embrace April fools'
March 30th, 2011
04:04 PM ET
12 years ago

Wisconsin Dems embrace April fools'

(CNN)–Wisconsin Democrats aren't pulling any punches, or punchlines, when it comes to recent comments made by freshman GOP Rep. Sean Duffy. Last week the congressman told a constituent that, although the annual salary for congressional members is $174,000, "I struggle to meet my bills right now."

In a town hall meeting last week, Duffy told constituents he was no stranger to their struggles though he receives a six-figure salary as a member of congress. When questioned about how much members of the U.S. House and Senate make, and whether he'd vote to receive a pay cut to battle the deficit, Duffy said "I guarantee most of you, I have more debt than all of you. With six kids, I still pay off my student loans. I still pay my mortgage. I drive a used minivan. If you think I'm living high off the hog, I've got one paycheck."

But Wednesday the Democratic Party of Wisconsin posted a flyer on their website advertising a food and clothing drive for "Poor Sean Duffy." Except the drive is billed as being sponsored by the Polk County Republicans, and the drive date? A telling April 1, 2011.

"Cutting benefits for working-class Wisconsin is hard work," it reads, imploring supporters to "Please give anything" from "French-cuffed shirts" to "oyster spoons" and "used cashmere."

"We're making fun with it but the real joke is on the residents in the north woods of Wisconsin," said Graeme Zielinski, spokesman for the Wisconsin Democratic Party. "This is a working-class district and he does not represent them well."

The drive date may be April Fools' Day, but everyone isn't laughing.

Duffy spokesman Daniel Son responded to the flap Wednesday when he told CNN, "Congressman Duffy wasn't complaining, he was simply pointing out that he's no stranger to tough times."

"He didn't run for Congress to get rich, he ran for Congress because he was increasingly concerned that the direction our nation was going would leave the next generation with an America that is less prosperous, less secure and less free. He is serious about facing our fiscal crisis head on, and he's not interested in scoring cheap political points – which is exactly what partisan Democrats are trying to do here with a misleading attack that distracts from the real issues at hand," Son stated.

Filed under: Congress • Sean Duffy
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Ryan

    Does this guy not know how to budget his money, I know if I were making $174,000 a year I wouldn't be struggling, maybe we should switch jobs and paychecks, and see how he feels living on an honest wage.

    March 30, 2011 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Dan J

    The guy made $35k last year WITH A FAMILY OF 8. He's been getting the $174k salary for 2 months now. Give him a break!
    I mean, do the "critics" realize their own hypocrisy? How much do they make? What do they think about President Obama? Is he out of touch? With a family of four, candidate Obama had an income of roughly $250k for several years. Yet he donated less to charities than the average family making a quarter of his income. His response? He was "struggling" with two children and law school tuition payments.
    Oh, the hypocrisy!

    March 30, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Alex

    Only a Republican would complain that a six figure income isn't enough. It's probably his "conservative values" that got him into his finanacial hardship in the first place. Spending more than you make? That's a conservative motto now...

    March 30, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I also did NOT get a sense that Congressman Duffy was whining, or complaining about his lot. On the contrary, I thought that he was doing a pretty good job of identifying and sympathizing through his own personal experience with middle class Americans.

    $174,000 to support a household of 8 is NOT living in the lap of luxury for sure.

    The Dems were being total tackheads, and quite frankly kinda heartless making fun of this guy. IMO

    March 30, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. Carlos

    You poor thing – maybe should have had 1 or 2 kids, instead of SIX.
    Take responsibility for your choices and quit whining. You make 3 times the national average household income.
    Sounds like someone has made poor choices his whole life and wants to cry about it.
    I guess he had no choice but to take out all that debt. Not one single other choice.
    Who's the REPUBLICAN in this story, for gods sake?!

    March 30, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. Mary

    If this is true then why aren't Republicans working on the JOB situation instead of tax cuts for the RICH, attacking bargaining rights and cutting education. It appears that working class voters are not the concern of the Republicans.

    March 30, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Ozzy

    You've got to be kidding me right? Hard times? Between my wife and I we have a two bachelor's and a master's degree, no kids, and yet combined we make barely a third of what he does, we're paycheck to paycheck, and can't even afford a home, let alone be paying a mortgage, and this is on an extremely tight and regimented budget. Comments like that from him make me sick. The Dems were right to take a shot at him.

    March 30, 2011 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. Michael

    Annual salary of $174,000 and perfect health care coverage. And the guy "struggles" to meet his bills right now. These Republican tea-baggers do not even know the meaning of "struggle." They do not understand the concept of "struggle." They do not give a sh!t about the disappearing middle class. Their votes tell you who they represent - big money and big corporations. Recall Scott Walker! Recall the rethugs! Recall the Baggers!

    March 30, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. ED FL

    Maybe if this IDIOT lives long enough to get to senior citizens and Social Security like most LOUD members of the Tea party,[That he wants to cut their income, then he may have something to complain about. What Gall Cut Social Security, Schooling Funds, Medical care for poor and sick, Veterans care and give Tax breaks to the wealthy ,then he can start to worry. First the health department shoud check the WATER in Wisconsin, or at least the water that GOP politicians drink. They all are having DELUSIONS of Grandieux for the Rich.

    March 30, 2011 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    Funny, I seem to remember the GOP ranting about how out of touch the Dems were on any number of issues: Duffy is a person who became famous for being on a reality show, has a law degree, and is now the recipient of 6-figure salary on the taxpayer dime. I am NOT sympathetic to his so-called "plight". His saying to his constituents that he has more problems than they do speaks to a lack of empathy for the people of his district, as well as a huge amount of arrogance. If he is truly serious, he needs to stop being a victim and start being a role model, or he will get obliterated in the next election along with the rest of the Wisconsin GOP.

    By the way, Daniel Son, he WAS complaining, and his "tough times" are the result of the choices he has made. He did not have to have six kids, he did not have to walk away from his previous job. The one thing that is truly sad, aside from his ignorance, is that he really thinks he is a victim. Another conservative "victim", disgusting and pathetic. Too bad he could not grow a pair when he was in those lumberjack contests.

    March 30, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. Clwyd

    Duffy is just another one of those right wing nut cases that can't live within his means and expects other to do so when they have far less than he has. Looking out for the rich, big oil, big business, big corporations, big Wall Street and big insurance is all they care about since they have already been bought and paid for by them!

    March 30, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  12. james

    I'll take that $175k job where all I do is talk and sound important, any day....

    March 30, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. John N Florida

    Let him get by on a Teachers salary (after cuts) for 2 years and see how he likes that. He's pointing out that he's paying $600.00 / month for health care............out of his pitiful salary.
    My wife pays $500.00 out of her pay and it's less than 1/8th of what he's making.
    Everyone in his district needs to show up at his office with a bag of canned goods for the poor, troubled man.

    March 30, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Mari

    Rep Duffy, stop having kids and expecting the government to support them!

    March 30, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. guest

    Recall on the way in Wisconsin.

    March 30, 2011 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  16. John

    And yet that 32% of the population will always support these hypocrites. I suspect that all of those "overpaid" Wisconsin teachers don't make $174,000 a year – and they work more months than the senators who voted to take away their right to bargain collectively.

    March 30, 2011 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. GI Joe

    Maybe he should have had his wicky-wacker snipped and he wouldn't have so many kids – whine whine whine. Or maybe gone to Planned Parenthood for condums. He makes 3 times as much as others and complains about paying the same amount. Whine whine whine. Gheeeeesh!!

    March 30, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  18. Tom

    Sounds like Duffy overextended himself on his own budget. The one thing he does not have to worry about is his health care benefits. Great benefits and free. Oh, and by the way, he wants to take those benefits away from teachers or make them pay more. Any contradiction there?

    March 30, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  19. Jack

    I'd love to see the house he's paying for then. All this while giving the finger to people who make a fraction of that a year, just to appease his corporate handlers.


    March 30, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |

    Boo hoo hoo. . .is this guy for real?

    March 30, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. MarkusR

    Let's get back to the real issue then: The GOPer wants to cut teacher pay while enjoying a $174,000 government salary.

    March 30, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  22. JV

    Duffy exemplifies Conservative thinking: It is $30,000 to $40,000 a year American who's living large, specially, those in the teaching profession

    March 30, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  23. OneMoreTime

    Not to worry, Santorum's kids are going to work for his social security payments, so this guy's kids can too. Or,
    since they are only in session approximately 6 mos a year, he could get a part time job instead of going home to
    snuggle with his "consituents" , I'm sure they provide a lot freebies. How about a loan from the millionaire teas
    that have just arrived in Washington. You bet not "everyone is laughing" and I don't mean this whiney little wimpo,
    I mean the ones who are truly struggling while these idiots try to take away any chance of making a decent
    living. Where do his kids go to school, and do the teachers work overtime to help their students, pay for
    supplies that some cannot afford, buy some children's lunches who otherwise would not eat? These people
    do make me sick.

    March 30, 2011 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    "When questioned about how much members of the U.S. House and Senate make, and whether he'd vote to receive a pay cut to battle the deficit, Duffy said "I guarantee most of you, I have more debt than all of you."

    So much for fiscal conservatism. Where is his personal "balanced budget?" Another example of "do as I say and not as I do!".

    March 30, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  25. Lisa P

    I'm not really sure how our country could be less prosperous, less secure and less free then it is right now with Tea Party morons calling the shots. As a Wisconsinite Duffy ought to know that, but I guess $174,000 and a cushy job in Washington (with gold-plated benefits!) buys a whole lot of complacency. 7th District voters, take note!

    March 30, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
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