WASHINGTON -- Days before filing for re-election, Rep. John Yarmuth is giving away money. His own, reports The Louisville Courier-Journal in its Saturday edition.
In fact, everything the government paid the 3rd District Democrat for last year's work is going to go to 38 Louisville-area community groups, he said yesterday. That comes to a bit more than $120,000 in after-tax income, reports the C-J.
"It's something I promised to do during the (2006) campaign," Yarmuth said in an interview. "And I truly value the notion of public service. I'm in the fortunate enough position that I don't need the salary."
He said he wanted to give back to the Louisville area and send a message that "I consider it a great honor to (serve in the House) and not reap any financial benefit."
He added with a chuckle: "I did get my health insurance paid for."
In his 2006 financial disclosure report, filed with the House, Yarmuth showed assets worth at least $3.6 million, with annual income and royalties ranging from $1 million to $5 million from stock in Sonny's Restaurants, the newspaper reports.
It could not be determined how many other lawmakers, if any, gave away their annual salaries to charities.
But Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, said "certainly it's not common, even among the well-to-do ones."
Yarmuth said he picked some organizations because he was familiar with them from visits he has made since his election to the House or past associations, reports the Courier-Journal.
For example, he knew the work of the Bingham Clinic because he is a former president of its board.
He said he also gave to some organizations, such as Metro United Way and the Louisville Fund for the Arts, because he knew they would be able to spread the money among still more groups.
Fund for the Arts president Allan Cowen, who joined the nonprofit in 1976, was not surprised, reports the newspaper.
"The congressman has been a supporter of ours for as long as I can remember," Cowen said. "His actions speak to his commitment to the arts agenda."
Yarmuth, founder, former editor and columnist for the Louisville Eccentric Observer (LEO) weekly newspaper, is simply "furthering his core beliefs that he practiced as a private citizen," Cowen said.
Officials at the Fund for the Arts and the Kentucky Humane Society had not received word of the donation until last night, when contacted by The Courier-Journal.
Copyright: The Louisville Courier-Journal