Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) has introduced a bill to ban personal use of leadership PAC money one week after a joint investigation by 60 Minutes and the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) exposed members of Congress using leadership PACs as “slush funds” to bankroll lavish lifestyle perks.
Harris’s bill, the “Clean Campaign Contributions Act of 2013” (H.R. 3356), would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to prevent members of Congress from using contributions to political committees, including leadership PACs, for personal use.
A leadership PACs purported purpose is to help elect one’s fellow party members. But as GAI President Peter Schweizer and CBS veteran reporter Steve Kroft revealed, several members of Congress tap their leadership PACs to fund lavish lifestyle upgrades. Examples include: Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) buying $35,000 worth of NFL tickets; Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) spending $26,814 at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse; Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) and his wife spending $16,575 to fly to a posh resort in Edinburgh, Scotland; and Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) spending $64,500 on a painting of himself.
Schweizer, author of the new book Extortion that exposed the slush funds, says Rep. Harris’s bill is a first step in the right direction.
“Bravo to Rep. Andy Harris for taking a courageous stand to shut the slush fund loophole,” said Schweizer. “I’m also encouraged to see that Sen. Rob Portman and others are eager to focus on ending self-enrichment through leadership PACs.”