The Detroit News: Mich.’s retired Congress members sit on $3.5M


“There’s no limit on how long they can keep it if they have a positive bank balance,” said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center.

As recently as the 1970s, former members could take their excess cash with them for personal use after retirement, said Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center. The rules changed in the 1980s.

“I can’t imagine Congress doing it because Congress directly benefits from the absence of restrictions on these committees,” Ryan said.

Say a former member gives a portion of his campaign funds to a nonprofit such as a university. It would be a violation of the personal-use ban if that university were to create a job for the member and pay them the funds that were donated, Ryan said.

The FEC keeps on indebted accounts because long-term debt is essentially a campaign contribution — a practice that the commission doesn’t encourage, as it would weaken limits on contributions, Ryan said.

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