Tags: Congress | campaign funds | petty cash | Aaron Schock

Politico: Congress Has a Petty Cash Problem

Image: Politico: Congress Has a Petty Cash Problem
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By    |   Friday, 01 May 2015 11:36 AM

Lawmakers "have almost complete latitude" in spending campaign petty cash funds, leading many to use leftover money on everything from BMW repair to expensive gifts for colleagues, Politico reports.

Some lawmakers have used such money to purchase air travel upgrades, gifts from upscale retailers like Neiman Marcus, with one retired congressman paying his wife about $20,000 out of his campaign stash, Politico found after a review of campaign documents.

While such expenditures may infuriate taxpayers, the lawmakers are unlikely to get into trouble for their spending, Politico said.

"The House Ethics Committee typically gives (members of Congress) a wide berth in defining what is considered campaign or officially connected activities," veteran election attorney Kenneth Gross of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom told Politico.

"However, under House and [Federal Election Commission] rules, personal use of campaign funds is strictly prohibited."

Illinois lawmaker Aaron Schock resigned in disgrace in March after being charged with using campaign money to fund a lavish lifestyle that included private flights and alleged fraudulent mileage reimbursements, The Hill reported. Schock paid back about $35,000 of monies he spent while in office.

Recently, lawyers who attempted to serve Schock in a lawsuit filed by donors have been unable to locate him, The Hill added.

Politico, however, said Schock was hardly the exception, even as the handsome and youthful former congressman garnered headlines amid scandal.

Others, who have spent funds on such curious items as bar and restaurant receipts, BMW maintenance and more than $12,000 on wares from the preppy clothier Vineyard Vines, have defended those expenditures.

At least one lawmaker's spokeswoman snapped back at Politico amid an inquiry on spending, which included more then $5,400 on hotel rooms in London, where she said he was giving political speeches.

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert's spokeswoman Kimberly Willingham encouraged Politico to write an "unbiased article about a congressman saving taxpayers significant amounts of money by legally using funds he has raised instead of taxpayer funds."

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Politics
Lawmakers "have almost complete latitude" in spending campaign petty cash funds, leading many to use leftover money on everything from BMW repair to expensive gifts for colleagues, Politico reports.
Congress, campaign funds, petty cash, Aaron Schock
327
2015-36-01
Friday, 01 May 2015 11:36 AM
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