Skip to comments.Former (disgraced) membersí campaigns alive, well and spending money
Posted on 10/23/2011 3:14:12 PM PDT by Libloather
Former members campaigns alive, well and spending money
By Russell Berman - 10/23/11 04:01 PM ET
The disgraced lawmakers might be gone, but their campaigns live on.
The handful of members of Congress who have resigned amid scandal in recent years have maintained active campaign accounts, federal records show, and they have spent tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions on legal fees, travel, public relations consultants and, in at least one case, the salary of a family member.
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) spent more than $130,000 in campaign funds in the three months after he resigned from the House on June 24, according to new filings with the Federal Election Commission. That total was more than what all but three of the 11 sitting members of New York Citys House delegation spent during that time.
Weiners campaign reported more than $10,000 in travel expenses during the third quarter, which began a week after his resignation became official. The campaign spent another $25,000 on consulting firms and policy research, and slightly less than $30,000 on legal fees.
Weiner stepped down after admitting he had repeatedly lied about sending lewd photos and messages to women on social networking websites. His campaign reported refunding $15,000 in contributions during the third quarter, and ended the filing period with nearly $92,000 cash on hand.
Most of the expenditures, including the travel to Washington, are associated with the winding down of Anthonys campaign, said Risa Heller, a Weiner spokeswoman whose firm is being paid by the campaign. I remain on the payroll to field the regular calls, like this one, that continue to come in related to his service in Congress.
The FEC filings indicate that Weiner received a handful of contributions as his scandal peaked in mid-June. Two of those came from actor Mike Myers of Austin Powers fame, who gave him the maximum donation of $5,000 $2,500 for his primary campaign and $2,500 for the general election.
The donations are dated June 14, just two days before Weiner announced in a televised news conference that he would resign. Myerss publicist, Ina Treciokas, told The Hill that the checks were cut weeks earlier way before any of [the scandal] had been reported.
Weiner is just the latest example of a member of Congress whose campaign committee remains active months or even years after he/she has left office. Federal law allows candidate committees to cover expenses related to an ex-members time in office, but forbids the personal use of campaign funds.
Former Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.), who resigned in March 2010 under allegations of sexual harassment and groping, spent nearly $12,000 during the past three months. Massa has kept his wife, Beverly, on his campaign payroll for the 18 months since he left office, paying her more than $5,000 from July through September to serve as the campaign committees treasurer.
The bulk of Massas campaign expenses in recent months have gone to three separate law firms representing him in investigations related to his resignation from Congress. The Department of Justice, the FEC and the House Ethics Committee all launched inquiries into Massas activities, and the former congressman is suing his former chief of staff, Joseph Racalto, over accusations that he stole more than $40,000 in campaign funds just before Massa resigned.
Actually, the campaign committee has been quite busy for the last year-and-a-half, one of Massas lawyers, James Doyle, told The Hill. He characterized having Beverly Massa serve as a campaign treasurer as a savings, saying her salary is less expensive than the cost of hiring a law or accounting firm.
Doyle said he had no indication that the Justice Department investigation was ongoing, and that the FECs inquiry appeared to be winding down. The House Ethics Committee reopened its investigation over the summer after it went dormant during the transition from a Democratic to Republican majority.
Doyle noted that most of Massas campaign contributions for the general election in 2010 were refunded.
Former Rep. Chris Lee (R-N.Y.) resigned in February following revelations that he sent shirtless photos of himself to a woman over Craigslist. His campaign reported spending slightly more than $1,100 in the third quarter, but it received $2,750 in the form of returned contributions from the New York State Republican Committee.
As it sought to wind down its operations, the Lee campaign tried to get rid of its funds by refunding donations and making contributions to county Republican committees and the state party. But the state party returned the money, said Tony Casale, a spokesman for the New York State Republican Committee.
Former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) has spent tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds on legal fees since he resigned his seat in April following the disclosure that he had an affair with the wife of one of his top aides.
The spending of political contributions on legal fees and even consultants after a lawmaker has resigned in scandal might be unpalatable to the public, but it is generally legal, said Lisa Gilbert, deputy director of Congress Watch at the watchdog group Public Citizen. The only bright line that exists is that it [the money must be] connected to the time in office, she said.
Lingering campaign accounts are not limited to former members of Congress. A litany of former presidential candidates have active committees, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R), who have struggled to pay off campaign debts, as well as former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), the indicted 2004 vice presidential nominee who has a mountain of legal expenses to pay.
Campaign accounts can stay open for years, or even decades. Ex-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), infamous for the inappropriate online exchanges he had with House pages, still has more than $1.2 million in his federal campaign account, nearly five years after he resigned.
And a recent search of the FEC database found an open account for another famous Foley: Former Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash.), 82, whose 30-year House career ended in defeat in 1994. Foleys wife, Heather, has dutifully filed a campaign finance report to the FEC every three months for the last 17 years, most recently in July. That report showed Foleys account had $35,886.49.
...and a better camera.
Mike Myers must have thought he was buying a Swedish Weiner enlarger...
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) spent more than $130,000 in campaign funds in the three months after he resigned... refunding $15,000 in contributions during the third quarter, and ended the filing period with nearly $92,000 cash on hand... received a handful of contributions as his scandal peaked in mid-June. Two of those came from actor Mike Myers of "Austin Powers" fame, who gave him the maximum donation of $5,000 -- $2,500 for his primary campaign and $2,500 for the general election... dated June 14, just two days before Weiner announced in a televised news conference that he would resign... Former Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.), who resigned in March 2010 under allegations of sexual harassment and groping... kept his wife, Beverly, on his campaign payroll for the 18 months since he left office, paying her more than $5,000 from July through September to serve as the campaign committee's treasurer... and the former congressman is suing his former chief of staff, Joseph Racalto, over accusations that he stole more than $40,000 in campaign funds just before Massa resigned... Former Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash.), 82, whose 30-year House career ended in defeat in 1994... wife, Heather, has dutifully filed a campaign finance report to the FEC every three months for the last 17 years, most recently in July. That report showed Foley's account had $35,886.49.
Upon resignation all remaining campaign funds should be sent to treasury and paid against debt.
If you put a million dollars more in the Treasury Congress would spend $3.5 million more based on the windfall. IIRC the last year the debt went down was in the sixties.
I agree with the funds being sent to the IRS or Treasury, but I disagree with when they should be sent.
Once a person is elected, all campaign funds should be sent to treasury.AT THE TIME OF ELECTION.
Let me explain. People who have been elected do not need those funds again until they run again.
As Congressmen or Senators they are allowed to basically send campaign propaganda out for free with their Franking privileges. The excess funds are stored for future Campaigns “War Chests” they are called.Any new candidate has to start building his funds as he enters the ring.
The incumbent has a great advantage as he has given favors and catered to friends and lobbyists, and used his Franking privileges to spread his propaganda. PLUS he has his war Chest.
If the elected Candidate had to turn over excess funds to IRS treasury it would make for a much more fair election, as they would both have to start collecting funds at the same time.
It is War Chests earned by favors and bought votes that keep many some of the worst loads in Congress sitting in their offices for years and years. War Chests are corrupt.As corrupt as the old turds that have the biggest ones.
Michael John Myers Canadian actor,
Born May 25, 1963 (age 48)
of Austin Powers fame, who gave him the maximum donation of $5,000 $2,500 for his primary campaign and $2,500 for the general election.
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