Opinion: Leadership PAC Loophole Must End
AUBURN, AL- As campaign finance scandals grab news, we support an effort to end a loophole that allows similar violations to occur via “Leadership PACs” which the FEC currently does not scrutinize for personal use expenses.
As this outstanding Washington Post article (https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/09/25/leadership-pacs-are-campaign-finance-scandal/?utm_term=.51946bc49d5a) notes, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) likely would have not been in trouble had he simply opted to use this mechanism to pay for his lavish lifestyle.
Leadership PACs were initially set up as a means to buy influence and power. While, perhaps, some of the initial motivation- of young, innovative legislators seeking to leapfrog established, senior politicians in leadership- was laudable, this mechanism has been used as a method of buying committee chairmanships, other positions, and general influence. Moreover, as the usage has increased, it’s also become a tool for members to rally around incumbents and send DC money into local districts to protect the establishment.
Such usage should raise eyebrows and lead to consideration to eliminate Leadership PACs altogether.
Unfortunately, such a sweeping reform seems far-fetched at the moment, but the FEC is being asked to look at the personal use loophole that allows members to spend lavishly with the money in those accounts. The article details the following abuses:
“Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spent $4,492 on limousine service in Rome, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) spent $15,000 on Celtics tickets in 2017, and Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.) has spent more than $9,000 at a Las Vegas resort this election cycle. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) spent more than $40,000 between 2015 and 2018 on fundraising events at Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort.”
This one is a no-brainer. Operations of Leadership PACs are questionable at best and do not advance democracy, but the spending of funds for lavish lifestyles of elected officials is an affront to those they are to serve. We support ending this loophole now.
What do you think? Do you agree that it’s time to end this loophole? Should we take a look at ending Leadership PACs and their operations entirely? Join the conversation at: https://www.facebook.com/takebackorg/.