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You have to imagine that freshman Republican Congressman Sean Duffy was hoping a gaffe this bad would stay hidden. One month later, however, thanks to the DCCC and local media, Duffy's lucky streak has come to an end.

GOP House freshman Sean Duffy of Ashland found himself explaining his congressional salary and benefits to a struggling local builder at a town hall meeting in Polk County last month, saying, “I struggle to meet my bills right now.”  

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee highlighted the exchange in a press release Tuesday, accusing Duffy of complaining about a salary ($174,000) that is far higher than what the average Wisconsinite earns.

A Duffy aide said Tuesday the congressman was not complaining, but relating to the financial pressures that constituents are feeling.

For those scoring at home, the average teacher in Wisconsin make less than one-third that of Congressman Duffy. Less. Than. One. Third.

There is an old saw that when you've dug yourself into a hole, you should stop digging. Evidently, however, the former Real World celebrity-turned-Congressman was not aware of that maxim. After stating an obvious truth (that he had not voted for his salary, since he was just sworn in at the start of the year), he followed up with this:

“The benefits that were offered to me as a congressman don’t even compare to the benefits that you get as a state employee. I just experienced that myself. They’re not nearly as good.”

Which would be true, perhaps, were it not for the fact that Congress has a few perks that your average Wisconsin cop or teacher don't have. What, they don't have an Office of the Attending Physician in Marinette or Eau Claire?

The gaffe has led to a rather entertaining dance being perpetrated by Duffy's GOP allies in Wisconsin. With one breath, they are trying to minimize it as much ado about nothing, an attempt for the Congressman to empathize with his struggling constituents by laying out his own financial difficulties. With the next breath, however, they are trying to prevent the airing of any recordings of the town hall where this (em)pathetic moment took place.

It's not all bad news for Congressman Duffy, however. In the spirit of generosity, the Democratic Party in Wisconsin is willing to put aside partisan differences and aid their fellow man. They will be holding a food and clothing drive for Duffy this Friday.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 03:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive and Progressive Hippie.

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