An ethics complaint filed by by 30 Democrats in the U.S. House claims their colleagues who sleep in their government offices are abusing taxpayer funds to give themselves free housing in the nation’s capital.

Among the targets of the complaint is Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, who represents Maine’s 2nd District.

At least one of his Democratic opponents — Islesboro bookstore owner Craig Olson — said that Poliquin should stop using his office as a bedroom.

“These members of Congress, including Mr. Poliquin, are enjoying an entitlement for which we are paying: free rent, a free cleaning service, free internet access,” Olson said. “Plus, I cannot imagine meeting with constituents where I also sleep.”

Poliquin, who has made no secret of his living arrangements in Washington, has touted the efficiency of sleeping in a pull-down bed that he purchased and installed in his office in 2015. He takes showers at the House gym.

He “lives in Maine and works in his office during the week when he is in Washington, D.C. so he can focus all of his time working on behalf of the families of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District,” said Brendan Conley, his spokesman.

Poliquin “chooses to sleep in his office, without any additional costs or burdens to the taxpayer in any way, shape or form,” Conley said.

The ethics complaint questions “the legality and propriety of a significant number of members choosing to use their congressional offices as overnight lodging facilities.”

Signed mostly by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the letter submitted to the House Ethics Committee says members who sleep overnight in their offices “receive free lodging, free cable, free security, free cleaning services and utilize other utilities free of charge in direct violation of the ethics rules which prohibit official resources from being used for personal purposes.”

The letter also complains that staff members and House employees “are subjected to seeing and at times interacting with members in their sleeping attire, underwear and even partially nude,” something it calls “intimidating and offensive.”

Poliquin is one of dozens who stay in their offices overnight when they’re in Washington. The practice is not limited to Republicans; there are also Democrats who do so. Among the other House members who routinely sleep overnight in their office is House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and former GOP vice presidential nominee.

The majority of members of Congress own or rent apartments in Washington or its suburbs.

The ethics complaint, first reported by Politico Tuesday, said that “continuing to maintain a personal residence in congressional offices, using congressional resources for personal use (such as water, phone, utilities, etc.) and increasing or interfering with the work of housekeeping and maintenance staff brings discredit to the House and blatantly violated House ethics rules.”

It also alleges that doing so “creates a hostile work environment for employees that work within the buildings.”

Those filing the complaint, who haven’t gotten a response from the ethics panel, said that “at a bare minimum” members who sleep in their offices “should be taxed at the fair market value of a Capitol Hill apartment,” the same way their parking spaces are taxed by the municipal government.

Olson said he has “always found the practice of Republican members sleeping in their offices since the Gingrich Revolution in 1994 to be quite ridiculous.”

“It is a way to isolate oneself from colleagues and has certainly contributed to the hyper-partisan nature of our current Congress,” he said.

Olson said that if members “want to continue to sleep in their offices at our expense, they should reimburse the Federal government for the cost of a one-bedroom D.C. apartment on Capitol Hill at market rate, with cable, cleaning service, and gym membership added to that monthly cost for every month they serve in office.”

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.