Where campaign funds can’t be tapped

Steve Henn Aug 21, 2008
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Where campaign funds can’t be tapped

Steve Henn Aug 21, 2008
HTML EMBED:
COPY

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Members of Congress are not allowed to use money in their campaign accounts to cover personal expenses. But Senator David Vitter of Louisiana recently asked the Federal Election Commission if he could use his campaign account to pay legal expenses related to a prostitution case. Without getting too personal, is that a personal expense? Marketplace’s Steve Henn takes a look.


Steve Henn: For years, politicians have grown accustomed to using campaign accounts as personal legal defense funds.

Former congressmen-turned-convict Randy Duke Cunningham used his to pay his legal bills in a bribery trial. Larry Craig used his to defend himself in the wake of his arrest in a Minneapolis airport.

Melanie Sloan: Well that seems in fact quite personal.

Melanie Sloan founded the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington:

Sloan: The FEC has been slowly over past years expanding the circumstances under which a member of Congress can use campaign funds for legal counsel.

But apparently there are limits. Attorneys at the FEC just recommended Senator David Vitter not be allowed to use campaign cash to pay more than $100,000 in legal bills he incurred while attempting to avoid testifying as a witness in a prostitution trial.

In Washington, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.

Marketplace + Caffeine = daily dose of awesome!

Your donation today gets you two things to keep you going – your daily news fix and your new favorite mug.