A non-partisan ethics watchdog sent a complaint to Lisa Stevenson, the acting General Counsel for the Federal Election Commission (FEC), calling for an investigation into the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and its chairman, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), for allegedly violating the Federal Election Campaign Act.
Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) stated that the FEC should investigate the DCCC and Patrick Maloney for “suspect spending” by using “campaign funds for personal use is prohibited,” which could be a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.
FACT cited the FEC’s interpretation of “using campaign funds for personal use”:
Commission regulations provide a test, called the “irrespective test,” to differentiate legitimate campaign and officeholder expenses from personal expenses. Under the “irrespective test,” personal use is any use of funds in a campaign account of a candidate (or former candidate) to fulfill a commitment, obligation or expense of any person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign or responsibilities as a federal officeholder.
More simply, if the expense would exist even in the absence of the candidacy or even if the officeholder were not in office, then the personal use ban applies.
Conversely, any expense that results from campaign or officeholder activity falls outside the personal use ban.
FACT referred to a report from the New York Post that detailed the DCCC spending $813 for an Air France ticket and how Patrick Maloney, along with his husband, was in France and Italy weeks later, touring, posting pictures, and attending a wedding, which has been well documented in multiple reports.
The Post reported added, a representative for the committee said the Air France ticket was purchased “to conduct DCCC business with Americans living overseas” and was not paying for the chairman’s trip but declined to give any specifics about what the “DCCC business” in Europe was or even who was intended to use the ticket.
The press release from FACT stated that funds from the DCCC are not supposed to be used for “personal use” such as “vacations” and including travel expenses. FACT added:
Federal law requires the DCCC to disclose all disbursements made with information about each expense. The disclosure requirement prospectively deters the use of federal funds for illegal purposes and retrospectively can be used to identify the misuse of funds for personal purposes.
FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold said in a statement that there are red flags between the time of the flight purchase from the DCCC and Patrick Maloney’s vacationing in the same area:
On its face, the timing of the DCCC’s purchase of the plane ticket and the Chairman’s vacation in the exact location raises obvious red flags of personal use of official funds–and the DCCC’s subsequent lack of transparency and explanation only worsens the situation. Because the DCCC has not been forthcoming on the specifics, the FEC should investigate this matter for the potential misuse of funds.
“The DCCC’s expenditure on its face raises concerns of personal use and, along with its failure to provide adequate information to the public, requires that the FEC investigate the DCCC and Rep. Maloney for the potential personal use of funds,” the complaint stated.
Follow Jacob Bliss on Twitter @jacobmbliss.