How Politicians Live It Up On Donated Money

charlesrangel tbi

Donating to Leadership Political Action Committees is supposed to advance the cause of the party, whether Democrat or Republican.

But because of lax rules, the second-largest source of political money for sitting members of Congress, “LPAC” money, is used by lawmakers to play golf at Pebble Beach, ride snowmobiles in Montana’s Big Sky Country and go deep-sea fishing in the Florida Keys.

See other ways LPAC money gets blown>
Investigative journalism shop ProPublica looked into the issue, and has found just how widely the lobbying loophole is abused: in the 2008 campaign cycle, less than half of the $112 million leadership PAC money was spent on its intended purpose of funding campaigns.

ProPublica: The public might be forgiven for thinking the days are gone when lobbyists and special interests could pay for a lawmaker’s cross-country golf outings. After all, both the House and Senate in 2007 responded to a spate of scandals by banning members of Congress from accepting gifts of any value from lobbyists or the companies that hire them.

But those reforms preserved a major loophole: leadership PACs like [Saxby] Chambliss’ Republican Majority FundĀ , which have far looser rules and get far less scrutiny than campaign committees. At first, only a few rising stars in Congress had them. Now, 70 per cent of the members do. So do a dozen former members.

In the past three election cycles, lobbyists and special interests poured $355 million into these funds, making them the second-largest source of political money for sitting members of Congress.

To see whose making poor choices with LPAC money, check out ProPublica’s searchable directory.

See all the ways politicians indulge themselves with political action committee cash>>>

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[slide
permalink=”have-their-portraits-painted-1″
title=”Have their portraits painted”
content=”Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) used $64,500 from his PAC to commission a portrait of himself.

Read more from the ProPublica investigation.
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[slide
permalink=”gamble-with-friends-2″
title=”Gamble with friends”
content=”Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada used his leadership PAC to entertain at Las Vegas casinos, including $32,985 at the Bellagio and $24,284 at Caesars.

Read more from the ProPublica investigation.
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[slide
permalink=”see-pro-sports-3″
title=”See pro sports”
content=”Sen. Charles Schumer of New York paid $32,760 to the New York Yankees and $14,490 to the New York Giants.

Read more from the ProPublica investigation.
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/98b9b914c6332d4a5f095e00/image.jpg”
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[slide
permalink=”play-golf-4″
title=”Play golf”
content=”Former Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, who was defeated last fall for re-election, spent $91,004 at the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.

Read more from the ProPublica investigation.

Image: www.bandondunesgolf.com
image=”http://static.businessinsider.com/image/4ac128e01f87553831b68100/image.jpg”
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[slide
permalink=”play-more-golf-5″
title=”Play more golf”
content=”Former Rep. Thomas Reynolds of New York spent $66,378 at Pebble Beach.

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[slide
permalink=”even-more-golf-rooms-jets-and-limos-6″
title=”Even more golf, rooms, jets, and limos”
content=”Only a quarter of the more than $750,000 that Saxby Chambliss’ PAC spent during the 2008 cycle — about $200,000 — went to help GOP candidates. The rest went for golf, including payments to resorts and transportation — a private jet on one occasion and limos on another.

Chambliss’ leadership PAC ran up a $50,394 bill at the Ritz-Carlton Naples on Jan. 25, 2008. The only note of explanation was the stated purpose, ‘PAC EVENT/LODGING/BANQUET/GOLF.’

Chambliss’ Communications director says the golf outings were to raise money for his Republican Majority Fund.

Read more from the ProPublica investigation.
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[slide
permalink=”hire-your-mistress-to-make-a-movie-of-you-7″
title=”Hire your mistress to make a movie of you”
content=”Former North Carolina senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards used his leadership PAC to pay videographer Rielle Hunter’s firm $114,000 in 2006 and 2007 to make a campaign video. Last year, he admitted he had an extramarital affair with Hunter during that period.

Read more from the ProPublica investigation.
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[slide
permalink=”support-mistresses-8″
title=”Support mistresses”
content=”Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.) admitted to having an extramarital affair with a woman who was on his leadership PAC payroll. Cynthia Hampton received $23,138 from the PAC during the 2008 election cycle.

Read more from the ProPublica investigation.
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[slide
permalink=”buy-tickets-to-disney-world-the-kentucky-derby-et-al-9″
title=”Buy tickets to Disney World, the Kentucky Derby, et al”
content=”Various PAC have used funds for visits to Disney Resorts (nearly $45,000), Churchill Downs (more than $27,000), and many more entertainment venues.

Read more from the ProPublica investigation.
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[slide
permalink=”pay-for-funerals-flowers-and-saying-goodbye-10″
title=”Pay for funerals, flowers, and saying goodbye”
content=”Leadership PAC funds have also paid for funerals, flowers and farewell parties.

Read more from the ProPublica investigation.
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[slide
permalink=”and-dont-miss-the-list-of-the-most-corrupt-politicians-11″
title=”And don’t miss the list of the most corrupt politicians”
content=”See the most corrupt members of Congress >

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