CLC Files Complaints Against Members of Congress for Misusing Leadership PAC Funds

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A dark hazy shot of the capitol building seen next to its reflection in another building.
The U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC, on Sunday, February 21, 2021. Credit: Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA/Alamy Live News

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed complaints with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against three members of the U.S. House of Representatives – Reps. Mike Kelly (R-PA), Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) – urging the OCE to investigate whether these members violated House rules governing the personal use of campaign funds. 

At issue is spending by the members’ respective leadership PACs. Each of these three members spent less than 25% of their leadership PAC funds on political activity during the 2020 election cycle.

Instead, they spent funds on things like travel, vacation resorts, meals and entertainment – possibly violating House rules regarding personal use of campaign funds.

While most members of Congress are supposed to use their leadership PACs to make political contributions, far too many politicians appear to use leadership PACs to enjoy perks of lavish living that are beyond the means of most Americans.  

A CLC and Issue One report found that the leadership PACs of 120 members of Congress spent less than 50% on politics between January 2019 and December 2020. According to the report, Moulton spent just 8% of leadership PAC funds on politics while Moore spent 12% and Kelly spent 22%. 

The report also shows that lawmakers whose leadership PACs spent less than half of their funds on politics between January 2019 and December 2020.

They collectively spent approximately $2 million at hotels and resorts, $950,000 on airfare, $220,000 at sporting events and concerts, $150,000 at steakhouses and $130,000 at golf courses and country clubs, among other things. 

Rules governing members of Congress are clear that campaign funds cannot be used for personal use. Voters deserve to know and trust that their campaign contributions are being used for campaign purposes, not as a slush fund used for resort traveling and entertainment. 

When leadership PAC money is spent to enrich members of Congress, it is also funding an erosion of public trust. The OCE has investigated members for converting leadership PAC funds for personal use in the near past. It must do so again with these three members.

As CLC's communications assistant, Georgia writes and edits content for the website.