Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, spent over $70,000 in funds for his campaign just on meals in the last three and a half years, according to a Politico analysis of his campaign finance reports.
Turner spent more than $70,000 from his campaign account on about 370 meals and meetings at restaurants and lavish hotels since 2017, with receipts ranging from $12 to several hundred dollars. The nine-term Republican congressman denied having committed any infraction, dismissing the report as “a political hit job initiated by my opponent.”
The congressman has vowed to reimburse his campaign for some of his expenses, specifically his international expenses, though he maintains that his campaign spending was legal.
His campaign manager, Mason Di Palma, told Politico: “All of Mike Turner or his team's expenses in the 18 years he has served in Congress have always been legally and publicly disclosed and reported. Our campaign organization spending is consistent with supporting our community and raising money for reelection, routinely spending substantially less than other senior members of Congress.”
But Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told Politico: “You could come up with a reasonable explanation for one. But in the aggregate, it looks suspicious.”
Adav Noti, a former attorney with the Federal Election Commission who is now a senior director at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization, added that “These expenditures — particularly the restaurants — do seem unusually ‘luxe.’ It’s concerning when an elected official consistently spends campaign money on fancy meals because it means that the official’s big campaign donors are essentially subsidizing his lifestyle and that gives wealthy donors far too much influence at the expense of the official’s actual constituents.”
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