Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who has spent tens of thousands of dollars to travel New York State after he suspended in-person campaign efforts last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, has critics raising ethics concerns, The Washington Free Beacon reported on Monday.
Maloney, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, urged constituents to "stay home" and "stop spreading this virus," as he halted his in-person signature-collecting program in March 2020.
However, financial disclosures show he then went on to spend almost $29,000 on "ground transportation" and "automobile expenses" over the next nine months, including some $20,000 in lease and insurance payments, more than $3,600 in collision repairs, almost $2,200 in gas, more than $2,100 in rental car fees, and nearly $500 for a satellite radio subscription, according to the Free Beacon.
In comparison, Rep. Antonio Delgado, also a Democrat in a neighboring district much larger in size than Maloney’s, switched to virtual events due to the pandemic and did not disclose any car-related expenses last year.
U.S. campaign finance law forbids candidates from using donor funds to pay for personal travel.
Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, told the Free Beacon that the payments raised "red flags" and that Maloney "has a duty to explain" them. She explained that "Without having any in-person campaigning, you wouldn't expect there to be a lot of expenses," adding that, "We generally look for spending that isn't in the realm of a candidate in the same state or in a similar-sized district."
Watchdog groups have also criticized Republicans for similar spending patterns, with Accountable US urging a probe into Rep. Lauren Boebert in February over her campaign mileage expenses.
Boebert, R-Colo., claimed campaign mileage on dates for which she did not list any public events, even outspending Maloney on gas, although she did not use campaign funds for the other types of travel expenses.
Maloney also has faced previous lawsuits and Federal Election Commission complaints for alleged ethics violations.
Just last month he failed to report thousands of dollars in stock trades within the required time period and, days later, his campaign group aided progressive congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in funneling $5,000 donations to several vulnerable House Democrats.
A number of those receiving the funds said they would return the money following Republican attacks on the procedure.
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