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FEC Should Ban Personal Use of Leadership PACs for Travel and Entertainment

Nov. 15, 2018

FEC Should Ban Personal Use of Leadership PACs for Travel and Entertainment

Leadership PACs Have Become Lawmaker Slush Accounts

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Election Commission (FEC) should stop lawmakers from using leadership PACs to award themselves travel, entertainment, sports tickets and golf club memberships, Public Citizen said in a comment (PDF) sent to the FEC today.

“Most members of Congress have set up leadership PACs, ostensibly to make campaign contributions to their colleagues. But much of it is spent on trips to Disney World and other vacation spots, wining and dining, and even membership dues at golf clubs,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division.

Following a comprehensive study by the Campaign Legal Center and Issue One on how leadership PACs are used, the groups petitioned the FEC to issue a rulemaking prohibiting the use of leadership PACs for personal matters. Federal campaign finance law bans candidates and officeholders from using campaign donations for personal matters, but leadership PACs are not considered campaign accounts and have remained mostly unregulated – with the exception that candidates may not use them to finance their own campaigns.

“This leaves the window wide open for wealthy special interests with business before Congress to sponsor vacations, golf outings, club memberships and even clothes by donating to an officeholder’s leadership PAC,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen. “The FEC needs to close this window.”