Data on Congress’s Honoraria Show School Groups’ Role

By Julie A. Miller — May 31, 1989 6 min read

Washington--Financial-disclosure forms filed by members of the Congress show that while education groups are by no means the most prominent sources of lawmakers’ outside income, the major groups do ask key Congressional allies to be speakers, and pay for the service.

Representative Pat Williams, Democrat of Montana, received more honoraria from education-related groups than any other lawmaker in 1988, according to the financial-disclosure forms.

Other major beneficiaries include Representative William H. Gray 3rd, Democrat of Pennsylvania; Representative Bill Goodling, Republican of Pennsylvania; Representative Patricia Schroeder, Democrat of Colorado; and Augustus F. Hawkins, Democrat of California.

The most active precollegiate education groups appear to have been the National Education Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National School Boards Association, and the American School Food Service Association.

Honoraria are primarily fees paid for speeches, though they also include fees for written material. Questions about the ethics of such earnings figured prominently in this year’s debate over Congressional pay raises, with some backers of the increase arguing that honoraria should be eliminated altogether. Lawmakers downed the increase after complicated maneuvering and a hail of negative reactions from the public. But the rules on honoraria, left intact, have become an issue again in the internal investigation of questionable practices by House Speaker Jim Wright.

Two of the Top Earners

House members may keep an amount equal to one-third of their salary--$26,850 for members outside the leadership; the rest must be donated to charity. Senators can keep honoraria up to 40 percent of their salary, about $35,000 for most.

House members averaged about $15,000 in honoraria in 1988. While all the top recipients were representatives, senators averaged more, about $30,000.

Mr. Williams, chairman of the House Postsecondary Education Subcommittee and until this year chairman of the House Budget Committee’s task force on human resources, received a total of $29,800 in honoraria last year, $18,100 of it from education groups.

Most were higher-education groups. But Mr. Williams also received $1,250 from the food-service association, $500 from the nsba, and $750 from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Next in line was Mr. Gray, who chaired the House Budget Committee last year. He received $10,500 for appearances before six education groups--including $2,000 from the American Association of School Administrators, $2,000 from the nea and $2,500 from its Illinois affiliate--and an additional $25,200 from colleges and universities.

Mr. Gray was one of the top collectors of honoraria over all, with a total of $110,788. That level of earnings was exceeded only by Ms. Schroeder, with $114,376, and Dan Rostenkowski, Democrat of Illinois and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, who took in a whopping $222,500.

Ms. Schroeder received $8,000 from higher-education groups, $2,000 from the New Jersey Education Association, $4,000 from child-care groups, and $35,000 from colleges.

While education groups contributed heavily to two of the top earners, others--such as Mr. Rostenkowski and members of the House leadership--received little or nothing from those groups.

Heard From Allies

Not surprisingly, the education interests called mostly upon legislators, like Mr. Williams, who are considered their Congressional allies. But education organizations cannot compete with honoraria powerhouses like the Tobacco Institute4and the American Bankers Association, and no Congressional education advocates even approached the $100,000 mark.

For example, Mr. Goodling, ranking Republican on the Education and Labor Committee and a former school administrator, received the third-largest amount from education groups, which provided all but $2,000 of the $10,750 he reported.

He received $250 from nassp, $500 from the Council of Great City Schools, $1,500 for two appearances before the American Council on Education, and $2,000 each from the National Association of Health Career Schools, the Association of Independent Colleges and Schools, and the College Administrators’ Network.

He also accepted travel and meal expenses from the Education Writers Association, the National Association of Health Career Schools, the National Association of State Councils on Vocational Education, the National Association of Pupil Personnel Managers, and twice from the Interstate Migrant Education Council.

Mr. Hawkins, chairman of the Education and Labor Committee, received $2,000 each from the aasa, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and the California Student Loan Financing Corporation, making up $6,000 of his $7,000 in honoraria. The chairman also accepted travel expenses from the nea and the National Black Child Development Institute.

Representative William D. Ford, Democrat of Michigan and an influential member of the Education and Labor panel, received $4,000 of his $29,000 in honoraria from two higher-education groups and free trips from four colleges.

Representative Silvio O. Conte of Massachusetts, ranking Republican on the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, also earned $4,000 speaking to higher-education groups. He collected a total of $21,500.

Another member of that subcommittee, Representative Louis Stokes, Democrat of Ohio, picked up $4,602 of his $26,281 in honoraria from education groups, including $1,602 from the nea

Senator Tom Harkin, a member of both the Senate Labor-hhs-Education Appropriations Subcommittee and the Labor and Human Resources Committee, picked up a total of $3,250 from the nea, nassp, the nsba, and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The Iowa Democrat, who earned a total of $25,422, may do better this year, since he has been named chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee and the Subcommittee on the Handicapped.

Senator Claiborne Pell, the Rhode Island Democrat who chairs the Subcommittee on Arts, Education, and Humanities, received $3,000 of his $5,950 in honoraria from the ncaa and naicu

Those Left Out

Many other legislators, particularly members of education panels, received lesser amounts from education groups. But conservative panel members received virtually nothing from them.

For example, Senator Orrin G. Hatch of Utah, ranking Republican on the Labor and Human Resources Committee, was the top Senate8earner of honoraria, with $79,025, but received only $2,000 from one education group--the Americanism Educational League.

Some lawmakers who are considered supporters of education also received little or no money from the field in 1988.

Senator James M. Jeffords of Vermont, who was ranking Republican on Education and Labor before moving from the House to the Senate this year, earned all of his $21,650 in 1988 honoraria from industry groups.

Representative William H. Natcher, the Kentucky Democrat who chairs the House Labor-hhs-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, reported no honoraria. Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs Labor and Human Resources, reported only $275 for two newspaper articles.

Several Senators who were key education supporters--Republicans Lowell P. Weicker Jr. of Connecticut and Robert T. Stafford of Vermont and Democrat Lawton Chiles of Florida--retired or were defeated for re-election last year, and thus were not required to file disclosure forms.


A version of this article appeared in the May 31, 1989 edition of Education Week as Data on Congress’s Honoraria Show School Groups’ Role