Report: Campaign cash still being spent even after lawmakers leave office
(CBS News) A new report by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington reveals that members of Congress, who either retired or weren't re-elected, maintained their campaign accounts, disbursing much of it to other members in the form of campaign contributions.
The report looked into campaign contributions of 57 House members of the 110th Congress who did not return in 2009. Of the nearly $10 million in their campaign accounts, $3 million was used for campaign contributions.
CREW found that former lawmakers who became lobbyists donated 28 percent more to politicians than the former members of Congress who did not. Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, was the largest recipient of his former colleague's money, receiving $110,000.
Meanwhile, non-lobbyist former lawmakers contributed 400 percent more of their money to charity.
Former members are using their campaign war chests "to further their lobbying career," Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, told Hotsheet. "There shouldn't be another advantage of being a member of Congress," including making campaign contributions "with other people's money," Sloan said.
CREW also noted the campaign account of the late Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., who died in 2008. At the time of his death, Lantos had $850,000 in his account. $150,000 went to a software firm located in the same town as his treasurer Janet Szelenyi, even though Lantos indicated he wanted his money donated to a foundation set up posthumously. CREW said that four years after his death, Lantos' account is finally being wound down and money is being transferred to the Lantos Foundation.
The group also found that Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., who resigned from Congress in 2007 to become the chancellor of University of Massachusetts, Lowell, had $4.868 million in his campaign account. He spent nearly $900,000 including $450,000 on campaign contributions.
As a solution, CREW recommends that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) require candidates who are no longer in office wind down their campaign accounts within "a certain amount of time." Currently, there are no federal requirements for former lawmakers or political candidates to shut down their campaign accounts.
Popular in Politics
- Immigration reform would cut deficit, analysis shows 76 Comments
- Senators: U.S. must take "more decisive" military action in Syria
- House Republicans pass 20-week limit on abortions 155 Comments
- Obama and Berlin: Faded echoes meet new realities
- Snowden: U.S. gov't destroyed my chance for fair trial
- Bill Ayers: Obama should be tried for war crimes
- Smooth, on-time Obamacare rollout no sure thing: GAO
- Treasury secretary's loopy signature is now less loopy