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June 14, 2012

CREW Report Reveals How Former Members of Congress Spend Leftover Campaign Funds

Leftover Campaign FundsWashington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its latest report, No Strings Attached, detailing how members of Congress-turned-lobbyists spend more of their excess campaign funds on political contributions than their non-lobbying counterparts after leaving office.  In all, CREW examined the campaign and political action committee (PAC) spending of 57 members of the 110th Congress who did not return for the following Congress.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Former members spent nearly $3 million in leftover funds on campaign contributions, more than any other expense;
  • House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) received $110,000 from former members who became lobbyists;
  • Even dead members continue to spend money. 

“At the end of their congressional careers, many members have no qualms about using leftover campaign and PAC money for access and influence,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.  “A slush fund helps smooth the transition from public service to lobbying.”

CREW also found that remaining campaign money frequently benefitted former members, their families, and staff, often for years after the member left office.  For example, the campaign treasurer for now-deceased Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) directed his campaign committee to pay nearly $150,000 over the past four years to a company that shares an address with her house.  After retiring in 2008, Rep. Dave Weldon’s (R-FL) campaign committee paid his wife and daughter over $9,000, while also picking up a $525 hotel bill at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, DC on Valentine’s Day in 2011.  Additionally, Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA) maintains an essentially endowed campaign committee that collects thousands of dollars in interest to replenish any spending.  Nine former members also contributed more than $150,000 to family members’ political campaigns.

“The Federal Election Commission should step up and make sure former members aren’t misusing leftover contributions,” continued Sloan.  “Perhaps Congress should add ‘wind down your campaign committee’ to the list of tasks exiting members must complete in addition to cleaning out their desks.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Derrick Crowe at 202.408.5565 or dcrowe@citizensforethics.org.

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