Campaign Slush Funds Send Pols to Disney, Beach, Golfing
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)—on the ballot for reelection in his San Diego district—used campaign donations to pay for golf balls, groceries, private-school tuition for his children and an airfare for the family’s pet rabbit, according to the corruption charges federal prosecutors brought against him last month. Perhaps he stands alone in allegedly breaking the letter of the law, but he is far from the only lawmaker using money from donors to subsidize a personal lifestyle and access luxury travel and golf resorts.
The real scandal may be that it’s perfectly legal when done through a so-called leadership PAC, or political action committee. Almost every member of Congress has one (94 senators and two-thirds of the House), according to a report released by watchdog groups Issue One and Campaign Legal Center: “All Expenses Paid: How Leadership PACs Became Politicians’ Preferred Ticket to Luxury Living” (PDF). Over the past five years, from 2013 through the first quarter of 2018, lawmakers dipped into these leadership PACs for $871,000 in golf related expenses, $614,000 in travel to the the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico (and it wasn’t for hurricane relief), $765,000 for stays at West Virginia’s Greenbrier hotel, and $361,000 at Ritz-Carlton hotels. In the last five years, lawmakers spent at least $469,000 on Walt Disney hotels, theme parks and restaurants.
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