British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is under official investigation after her astonishing shopping list -- all charged to the U.K. taxpayer -- was leaked to the British media.
The Daily Mail claims that Smith's list of charges includes small and not-so-small expenses like a toothbrush ($3.73), a doormat ($21), a barbecue ($59.62), a Zanussi FWS1432S washing machine and fitting ($476.99), decoration of the hallway ($2,042.30), adult entertainment movies ($14.92). …
Wait, do you mean porn?
Yes, Smith's husband, Richard Timney, got so caught up in charging the taxpayer for every pence he and his MP wife spent, that he "accidentally" put the porn movies he watched on the list, according to the newspaper.
But British taxpayers don't have to worry because Smith has offered to pay back the porn claim -- although not before blaming Commons officials for failing to warn her about her husband's claim.
"I wish that when it had got into the Fees Office that they had brought it to my attention," Smith told The Daily Telegraph. "I would immediately have withdrawn it."
Smith's office declined to comment to ABC News. But it did refer to an interview she gave last weekend to The Telegraph. In that interview she said she hasn't considered resigning her post.
"I think that I have abided both by the letter of the law and by the spirit of the regulations," she said.
Opposition Conservative Party MP Mark Field told the BBC, "She says it's all within the rules, which I'm sure is right -- but the reality is it's not within the spirit of the rules. If she doesn't recognize that I think she's really a bit too stupid to be home secretary."
Commons Standards Commissioner John Lyon is currently investigating whether Smith should have declared a rented room in her sister's London home as her main residence.
Taxpayer Ben Jamal, 45, says Smith is only an example of many MPs with the wrong mentality. "This is a general issue with MPs, which doesn't stop at Jacqui Smith. There is something fundamentally wrong with the system and the MPs' moralities. It shouldn't be about how much they can get from the taxpayer. They should ask themselves: Do I really need this or am I just claiming it because I can?"
Office worker Katherine Brenen, 27, is not much happier with the MPs' mentality.
"It's very annoying when I hear about all the expenses MPs claim. They are already getting paid very well, so I don't understand why they need to be compensated for their expenses. If you want to watch porn, fine, but don't use taxpayers' money to pay for it. I mean, I just get one salary and I don't get compensation anything. Why should they?"
So there is a limit to Smith's expense claims? If there is, it's not apparent in looking at her then; she did a good job of ignoring that boundary for the last decade. Smith is paid $211,754 a year as an MP. However, she has been able to claim an astounding $223,644 for her second home in Redditch since 2001, taking full financial advantage of the second home perk.
The MP who shares the Redditch, Worcestershire, home with her husband and children claims that her main residence is her sister's terrace house in South London.
In this way Smith can legally send the bills for running her Redditch home to the taxpayer. Besides plumbing ($604.76), bed linen ($164.10) and a Samsung WS2BA116T flat screen TV ($520.66), Smith also claimed $3,580.46 a year to pay her cleaners and $17,300.60 annually for her mortgage from 2006 to 2008.
Smith is only one of the U.K. MPs who is currently caught up in a tax scandal. She became the subject of cartoons and a target of public mockery after the claims for her husband's porn movies were leaked.
British Chancellor Alistair Darling is the latest MP to be dragged into the fray over expenses. He reportedly charged expenses on his second home in Edinburgh while living free of rent at 11 Downing Street and renting out his London flat.
British politicians are allowed to claim their expenses and charge the taxpayer, provided the expense helps them do their duties, so they are able to justify using public money to finance a second home outside of London or furnish a new home in London. But, in a time when everyone is tightening their belt, does the British taxpayer have the right to be offended by the lavish expenses of their representatives or is it just part of the job?
Sales assistant Pilar Vernon, 31, thinks the MPs should make a moral decision.
"I'm jealous of the MPs. These are tough times and there are people making much less than them. Where can I sign up to claim my expenses?" Vernon said.