- A GOP candidate used leftover cash from his failed campaign to pay for a trip to the Capitol riot.
- Derrick Van Orden from Wisconsin spent around $4,000 while in DC, the Daily Beast reported.
- Regulations state that travel expenses must be “related to the campaign,” experts said.
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A Republican congressional candidate from Wisconsin, who lost his 2020 race, allegedly used his leftover donor money to pay for a trip to the Capitol building on January 6, according to a Daily Beast report.
Derrick Van Orden, a former Navy SEAL and small-time actor, was reportedly left with $12,500 after narrowly losing to longtime incumbent Rep. Ron Kind in the November race for Wisconsin’s 3rd congressional district.
He spent around a third of that – $4,000 – in transportation and accommodation while traveling to DC with his wife and a campaign staffer around the week of January 6, the Daily Beast reported.
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Jordan Libowitz, communications director for campaign finance watchdog Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility, told the Beast: “Campaign accounts are not personal slush funds. They must be used for campaign-related activities. Attempting to overthrow an election you just lost is not a proper campaign activity.”
“If he did use his campaign to pay for travel for him and his staff to attend the rally-turned-insurrection, it would raise serious questions about his compliance with campaign finance laws,” he added.
In a public op-ed published a week after the riots, Van Orden insisted the trip was for work-related meetings and “to stand for the integrity of our electoral system,” the Daily Beast reported.
“If those were campaign-related meetings, he should say so,” Libowitz said. “If it was a personal trip as a private citizen, that’s another matter.”
Van Orden has previously admitted to attending the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6 with several thousands of other Trump supporters, but insisted he never entered the grounds. However, social media posts of the day show Van Orden standing in a restricted area breached by protesters, the Daily Beast reported.
Van Orden announced in April that he’s running for Congress again, and has already received major endorsements, including from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
The November 2020 race ended up being a close call – Van Orden lost only by about 2.5 points to Kind, who has held the seat since 1997.
Both candidates attracted a record amount of campaign contributions during the race, according to federal disclosures. Kind raised around $3 million while Van Orden managed to pull in almost $2 million, the Daily Beast reported.
Van Orden is not the only congressional candidate who attended the Capitol riot.
Jason Riddle, who running in New Hampshire, said last week his Capitol riot-related arrest will likely help his campaign, Newsweek reported.
JR Majewski, who is running for Ohio’s 9th congressional district, was also spotted breaching police barricades that day.