How Members of Congress Cultivate Wealthy Donors Through a Little-Known PAC
Tickets worth $7,236 to the Santa Fe Opera for a Democratic senator from New Mexico and his supporters. Nearly $19,000 in tickets to the two-day horse race at the Breeders’ Cup for a Kentucky GOP congressman and his racetrack guests.
In both cases and many more like these, the money came from a loosely regulated pot of money that lawmakers use to advance their standing in Congress and support other members’ reelection campaigns.
The report, by the Campaign Legal Center and Issue One, says that lawmakers routinely use leadership PAC money to support a “lavish” lifestyle of mingling with donors and supporters. Fundraisers held at exclusive golf clubs and beach and ski resorts were common expenditures, the report says.
“The assumption is that these are political committees established by current or aspiring members in leadership to support their colleagues,” Brendan Fischer, who directs the Campaign Legal Center’s federal regulatory work, said in an interview. “Over time, the use of leadership PACs expanded, and as leadership PACs expanded, leadership funds have increasingly been abused.”