Tester Sponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Eliminate Taxpayer-Funded Portraits of Government Officials

Senator's Bill Will Eliminate Exorbitant Perk, Save Taxpayers Money

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation to eliminate taxpayer-funded portraits of government officials ending an expensive and unnecessary perk for Washington bureaucrats.

Tester’s bipartisan Eliminating Government-Funded Oil-Paintings (EGO) Act will end a long-time perk for politicians by prohibiting federal agencies from using taxpayer dollars to commission official portraits of government employees. The federal government has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2010 on official oil-painting portraits of former employees.

“When folks pay their taxes, they expect those hard-earned dollars to keep our country safe and educate our children, not handout unnecessary perks for government bureaucrats,” Tester said. “This bill has support from Republicans and Democrats because it will eliminate exorbitant perks, hold bureaucrats more accountable, and save taxpayers nearly a half-million dollars each year.”

Federal agencies routinely commission expensive oil-painting portraits to commemorate high-ranking government officials’ time in office.

These portraits can cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars each year. Often these portraits are displayed at secured locations within federal agencies, and not available to the viewing public.

Tester’s bill will save taxpayers nearly $500,000 annually according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Taxpayers spent $46,790 for a portrait of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his second such portrait to be displayed at the Pentagon. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Steve Preston was commissioned a $19,500 portrait after only serving seven months in the position.

Tester’s bill is sponsored by Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).