Sandy Hook

Sandy Hook

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Leadership PAC Money and Bipartisan Usership

Regardless of political persuasion, congressmen sure like to pump for money. And they're not selfish about spending it on themselves either: travel to golf and ski resorts, entertainment, expensive restaurants, sports events, and even popcorn and candy. And let's don't leave out the proverbial bar tab and private jets and horse tracks.

"Leadership" PACs began cropping up in the 1970s. They are separate from campaign committees in that "lawmakers are supposed to pass along the bulk of the money to other members of their party for their campaigns. That way, lawmakers with leadership PACs can earn their beneficiaries' support when it comes time to divvy up committee chairmanships and other party leadership posts."

The problem with these "Leadership" PACs is that, unlike campaign contributions, there are no FEC rules prohibiting lawmakers from using the money for personal fun and games.

Who's the leader of the PAC
That's made for me and me
J-O-H-N  B-O-E-H-N-E-R
Hey! there, Hi! there, Ho! there
I'm as welcome as can be
J-O-H-N  B-O-E-H-N-E-R

That's right boys and girls. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio. Do I hear applause?

The Minority Leader really isn't the leader but he has raised more than $1.4 million from business interests this election cycle for a committee he claims to have created to help fellow Republican lawmakers. But after spending only a third of the committee's money on other candidates, what's happened to all that other money?

Everyone knows you have to spend money to make money and Johnny has done that with gusto. Five-star restaurants. Trips to luxurious resorts where he rubs shoulders with corporate groups and lobbyists. He has spent more than $182,000 through the committee on travel with donors to high-end vacation spots. This included $70,403 for a stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples and over $30,000 at Disney Resort Destinations.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is the real winner. He has been a busy boy as well. His Leadership PAC raised more than any other on the hill this election cycle - $1.9 million. This included $136,000 on golf and sporting vents, skiing and more fine dining. The committee's expenditures on popcorn, candy and cookies totaled $13,400.

Democrats have exhibited some amazing leadership skills as well..

In this cycle, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) "has spent $52,700 on travel with donors to resorts; his committee also spent $9,800 on entertainment tickets and a limousine company. Less than half of its expenditures went to other candidates, the center's tally shows." The Center for Responsive Politics charts his fund-raising total at $3.3 million and ProPublica estimates his entertainment and travel expenses to be $413,404.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) raised $2.1 million and spent $378,420 on entertainment and travel. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) spent $261,295 on the fun side while raising nearly $1.2 million.

Recommended reading:

ProPublica has a searchable database.

Center for Responsive Politics lists Leadership PACS and their affiliates. A click on a PAC will link to a chart of funds raised and expenditures.


  1. Disgusting. But we all know this goes on in both partys.

    It's their world. We just live in it.

    Do you believe this will change? When they write the rules?

  2. parties.

    What happens to our brains when we type on the internets?


  3. Thanks Leslie.Even worse than I'd thought and I'd thought it was bad.

    I wonder how much of Boehner's PAC money goes for tanning booths?

  4. Oh Shaw. I do far worse than that any ole day.

    Oso. After a day of golf at one of these resorts I'm sure he heads right to the tanning booth.

  5. It is disgusting, and no it will not stop.
    Did you see Ed Schultz tonight? He was as orange as Boner, not sure if it was the camera angle or suntan, or make-up, or god forbid tanning booth!! Oh Ed what have you done??!

  6. More evidence, as if any were needed, that this country needs publicly financed elections, with really stiff penalties for those who give or receive money outside of that provided by public financing system.

    Another likely benefit of such a system is a Congress with far fewer millionaires and other wealthy types, and some more middle-class and working-class people. It's possible that in turn would cause less shuffling of gold to the rich while shafting the rest.

  7. SW's correct. The rise of the millionaire in politics has destroyed grass roots and any influence the regular Jane and Joe have on legislators.

    Politics used to be fun. No more.

  8. Sue asked: "Did you see Ed Schultz tonight? He was as orange as Boner, not sure if it was the camera angle or suntan, or make-up, or god forbid tanning booth!! Oh Ed what have you done??!"

    Why, he's funding the new healthcare plan, of course.

    "More evidence, as if any were needed, that this country needs publicly financed elections"

    No, this is no reason to give up and waste tax money on this and turn over control of the election process to those in power. We need less government money in the process, not more.

    "Another likely benefit of such a system is a Congress with far fewer millionaires and other wealthy types"

    Actually, this is not true at all. The Perot's and others would be able to easily get around these restrictions and use their own money on campaigns.

  9. I think this kind of practice is a travesty from the get go. Any little hole lawmakers can find to circumvent campaign laws while having high rolling fun is fine with them. Campaign reform that closes these gaps is the only way to go.

    We've had some pretty good presidents and congressmen who have been millionaires. Sometimes those on the take can be from more modest backgrounds.

    Boehner attended public schools and as a youngster he worked in the family cafe/bar and he worked his way through Xavier as a janitor. Absolutely nothing wrong with any of this. In his early years in Congress he even "seemed" to have had an honest bone or two when he joined with the Gang of Seven. And then he teamed up with Newt and now all you can see are $$$ signs in those big blue bedroom eyes.

    A law like the one SW suggests would go a long way to keep our lawmakers more honest and out of the hands of influence peddlers. Of course it's like ground hogs. You close one hole and two more pop up.

    I might add that the 10% tax on tanning booths hardly funds health insurance reform. It will not even begin to cover the costs of the cancer treatments these narcissistic fools will no doubt have to have at a later date.

  10. Great find, Leslie.

    I'm with SW on this one. I've been calling for 100% public financing for years. Until that happens, we shall have the best Congress money can (and does) buy.

  11. This is an interesting read Ms.Leslie ... I mean .... I know about scammer's, and have wrote plenty about scam's, but there is much I miss ... there is just too much shit going on to be able to keep up with it! But these figure's are the astonishing part, I mean look at this ....$70K for the Naples Ritz?, $30K on Disney resort's?, $13K on snack's and munchies?, $52 to travel/ resort's?, $378K on entertainment and travel? And all they got was gratifying their senses? Grrrl, those are some hefty pleasure fee's! But I reckon it is "pro- business", heh? :) Heh, heh, heh, heh, ole Boehner has alway's gave me a good chuckle, I mean this guy is so smooth, he look's like a lush, then he has that style of talk that can sell a lemmon vehicle to just about anyone, he is so smooth I used to call him "silk", great selection of necktie's though, alway's thought Barney Frank could get some GQ tip's from him .... no tellin what ole John pay's for them? But he is one of those that at first sight I wouldnt trust as far as I could throw him. I knew there is alot of money shifting on the Hill, but never was aware of many detail's, and especially this detail of how such thing's work. Thanx Grrrll....

  12. TC: Totally with you on both counts.

    RC: Looks like Johnny would take some of that money and buy a better looking rug for his head. But seriously, I'll take Barney's slap-happy dressing over Boehner's any day. I'm more interested in content than appearances and Barney walks circles around Johnny.

  13. I've been calling for 0% government funding of elections, so I guess we cancel each other out.

    Come on now, do you really want to be forced to pay money to support the campaigns of Pat Buchanan, etc? Isn't it better when only those who support candidates are the ones who contribute?

    back to the orange boner...

  14. People who have money have no idea what the statement, “I don’t have any money” means. How can these high-rollers empathize with so many of their constituents? Their assumed lifestyle is not just “disgusting,” it is downright VULGAR. Wasn’t it John McCain who was once asked on a campaign stop to give the price of a loaf of bread and couldn’t answer?

    Although lawmakers are not responsible, how does that popcorn tab look to people who didn’t get their COLA raise this year and probably won’t get it next year?

    Buchanan or no Buchanan, campaign finance reform is more democratic. And people like Perot can run either way if they want to throw their money away. (Remember Katherine Harris who blew her inheritance on a losing campaign?)

    Somewhere there’s a Web site which lists names of contributors and amounts of contributions made to every candidate. I had the link once. Check out some local Republicans of means, and it was interesting to see how they got arund the limit.

    Good information, tnlib!

  15. "Buchanan or no Buchanan, campaign finance reform is more democratic"

    Just make sure to do it without violating free speech/freedom of the press, and without forcing people to pay money to candidates they do not agree with.

  16. Here you will see who gets how much from who. And then how they vote on certain "issues".