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GOP congressman seeks to limit Clinton office expenditure

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The congressman charged with overseeing government funds for former presidents has fired off a letter Thursday to the General Services Administration warning that former President Clinton must not use more taxpayer funds than already allotted for his New York office space.

Rep. Ernie Istook, R-Oklahoma, who is chairman of the Treasury, Postal Service and General Government Appropriations subcommittee, wrote after hearing reports that Clinton plans to spend some $650,000 per year to pay for the office, while only $228,000 is budget for such an expense.

"Unless a revised amount is proposed and approved by Congress, it would appear extremely unwise for GSA to proceed with any lease that resembles what is being reported (in the press)," Istook wrote.

In the four-page letter, Istook raised a series of questions about the arrangement, asking at one point whether federal law would permit "outside funds to supplement appropriated dollars."

Clinton spokesman Jake Siewert defended the proposed lease. "Every former president has an office near his home," Siewert said. He said Clinton's office was about the same size as Ronald Reagan's, but "New York is more expensive than West LA."

Siewert said the annual rent on Clinton's office is approximately $650,000.

Siewert said the General Services Administration initially estimated it would cost $110 per square foot for New York office space and that Clinton's lease was approximately $90 per square foot.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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