The FEC could ban Congress from using leadership PACs for personal use

The Sacramento Bee

The Federal Election Commission is for the first time seriously considering banning members of Congress from using any political donations for personal use.

Its action was spurred by a report from watchdog groups that found “often under the guise of fundraising activity, officeholders and candidates overwhelmingly use leadership PAC money to pay for, among other things, five-star luxury resort stays, expensive dinners, trips to theme parks, golf outings, tickets to Broadway shows and sporting events, and international travel.”

Members of Congress typically have two accounts associated with them personally: Their campaign account and what is known as a leadership PAC. There is already a personal use ban on campaign accounts but not on leadership PACs. If the FEC eventually approves the ban rule, it would treat leadership PAC spending as similar to campaign account spending, meaning much more scrutiny of leadership PAC expenses in the future.

Leadership PACs are purportedly meant for candidates to donate to other candidates and committees, but the report by Campaign Legal Center and Issue One, nonpartisan watchdog agencies, found candidates only used an average of 45 percent of leadership PAC funds for that purpose over the last three election cycles. “In order to drain the swamp in Washington, cleaning up leadership PAC spending is a good way to start,” said Brendan Fischer, director of the Federal Reform Program at Campaign Legal Center.

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