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MELISSA HART'S JUNKER

If you're longing for yet another example of how screwed up our federal government is, look no further than to the case of Melissa Hart's junker.

Ms. Hart, the former congresswoman who represented Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District, was defeated for re-election nearly four years ago. But her car, a Volkswagen Jetta, has remained in office, so to speak.

As was first reported many months ago, the car was left in the Longworth House Office Building parking garage. Incredibly, such nonsense is allowed. Former members are allowed to park or store their cars in House parking garages free of charge and indefinitely.

With one major exception: You can't be a lobbyist. And since March 2009, Melissa Hart has been just that. Confronted, Hart says she'll remove the junker and donate it to charity.

But Hart feels no compunction to reimburse taxpayers for warehousing her car since she violated the terms of her perpetual perk. At $290 per month — the value the House Administration Committee puts on the space for tax purposes — Hart owes taxpayers about $4,600. She should pay up.

That said, the House should end the practice of free parking and storage for ex-members. It's a ridiculous perk that never should have been offered in the first place and one ripe for abuse, as the Hart incident shows.

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