Former Congressman and current White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appears to have violated the law by charging his campaign and PAC thousands of dollars in personal expenses, according to an FEC complaint filed today by CREW. The spending includes a jewelry store and numerous restaurants and clubs, including the Trump Hotel in DC and its restaurants.
The Federal Election Campaign Act and FEC regulations prohibit a candidate for federal office from using campaign funds to pay the personal obligations of any person. Meadows announced in December 2019 he would not seek reelection, and took a job in the White House in March 2020, but his campaign, later converted to the Freedom First PAC, continued to spend on meals at places like the Capitol Hill Club without explanation and without apparent connection to legitimate campaign purposes.
“One of the clearest rules in campaign finance is you can’t spend your campaign’s finances on yourself. That is what it looks like happened here, and it must be thoroughly investigated.”
CREW Executive Director, Noah Bookbinder
On the same day that Meadows formally resigned from Congress, March 30, 2020, Meadows for Congress reported spending $2,650 on “printed materials” from Ann Hand LLC. Ann Hand LLC is a jewelry store in Washington, DC and does not advertise stationery or other “printed materials” on its website. FEC regulations and guidance provide that certain expenditures are automatically considered personal use. These expenditures include, among other things, “household food items or supplies.” Meadows’ campaign and PAC spent hundreds of dollars at Costco and Lavender Moon Cupcakery.
“Converting funds raised from Americans for a campaign into personal use is a violation of trust. If further investigation confirms that, there should be consequences,” said Bookbinder.
Personal use of campaign funds is a major issue. Following complaints from CREW in 2016, the Department of Justice began investigating Congressman Duncan Hunter for using his campaign credit card for things including personal meals and lodging. Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in prison.