Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Charles Rangel, Jerrold Nadler among N.Y. politicians spending big on food

Tuesday, April 21st 2009, 4:00 AM

Recession-conscious New Yorkers are saving money by packing their lunches, but some of their representatives in Congress are packing it in everywhere from posh bistros to Dunkin' Donuts.

Local lawmakers used campaign cash as a veritable stimulus package for the restaurant industry during the first three months of the year, new federal fund-raising records show.

House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) plowed through more than $12,000 worth of food.

No tab was too small for Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) to pick up on the campaign dime. His team spent $8 at Dunkin' Donuts and $11 at Krispy Kreme.

Rangel, the dean of the Empire State's congressional delegation, spent $3,900 on catering at Washington's first-class Phoenix Park Hotel. He also dropped $1,128.21 at swanky Capitol Hill restaurant Bistro Bis, the sort of place where a bar burger comes in at around $16 - and a bottle of wine can go for $300.

Rangel spent thousands on grub closer to home, too, handing over $3,000 for catering at Rainbow by Cipriani and hundreds more at Harlem establishments Spoonbread and A Taste of Seafood.

"He did it because it's part of his business as chairman of a very powerful committee," said Baruch College's Doug Muzzio.

"I don't spend $133 a day [on food] - but I'm not one of the most powerful men in the House of Representatives," the public affairs professor added.

While Rangel may have been one of the bigger spenders, some of his colleagues joined him in dishing out for catered fund-raisers and working lunches:

- Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) spent nearly $2,000 on eats at upscale Morton's steakhouse in D.C. He also forked over $16,524.78 to Dream Street Caterers and $7,820 at Sam's Soul Food.

- Nadler spent about $871 for a cash bash at the Charlie Palmer Steak in Washington, $89 at Blue Ribbon Bakery in Manhattan and $23.58 for breakfast at an IHOP in Arlington, Va.

He dropped $278.54 for an event at Steak Frites downtown, and $391.14 on Fresh Direct grocery deliveries.

- Hunan Balcony in the Bronx gobbled up $540 from Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx, Rockland).

- Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Queens) spent $965.47 for catering by Washington's B. Smith's restaurant, which boasts it's "been called one of the most beautiful dining rooms in America."

She also shelled out $580 at Capitol Hill's Johnny's Half Shell, previously noted as one of Gourmet magazine's best restaurants.

ckatz@nydailynews.com

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