South Carolina's most powerful politicians spend leadership PAC money on 'lives of luxury', watchdog group wants reform

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Two of South Carolina’s most powerful politicians have spent thousands of dollars at golf resorts, ritzy hotels, and expensive restaurants, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

Spokespersons for Congressman James Clyburn and Senator Lindsey Graham call them "fundraising expenses," but some watchdog groups say they look more like "slush funds" used to maintain a life of luxury.

Congressman Clyburn and Senator Graham's leadership PACs are thriving. They are political action committees established to help elect like-minded candidates and build support for their ambitions to reach positions of power.

Some watchdog groups argue their purpose has been skewed to fuel a political system built on money.

“Even the intended purpose of leadership PACs can be questionable,” said Brendan Fischer, the federal reform director for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization leading the fight to get more oversight of Leadership PACs. “The existence of leadership PACs makes it almost a requirement that officeholders who want to get into a leadership position has to buy their way up the leadership ladder. It’s very hard to get into a leadership position in congress without giving money to other candidates, and that means you have to raise money from wealthy donors, which helps contribute to a system entirely dependent on money.”

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