Federal Election Commission Chairman Ann Ravel enjoyed a $160-a-day rental car paid for by the California Political Attorney Association while she attended a seminar in Squaw Valley, California, travel documents reviewed by Breitbart News show.
The travel report and information received from Special Counsel to the Chair Gabe Gopen show that the CPAA rented a car from Budget on Commissioner Ravel’s behalf from September 5, 2014 at 6:34 a.m. to September 7, 2014 at 5:20 a.m. The bill came to $320.37.
Chairman Ravel, an Obama appointee to the FEC and a former campaign finance regulator under Jerry Brown in California, would seem to enjoy traveling in style if she’s running up that kind of car rental bill. According to Kayak.com–Reno location–standard rental cars start at $19 per day. You can get a nice upgrade for $25 dollars per day. Ravel also was subsidized $452 for her hotel and $355 for meals and registration. The value of the two day trip was $1,417.37.
The travel documents that Breitbart News reviewed state that Ravel took the trip to attend a Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MSCLE) seminar and indicated that Ravel stayed there from September 6 until September 17, 2014.
Breitbart News asked Gopen why Ravel was there for eleven days. Gopen replied: “it appears that the dates filed with Office of Government Ethics are inaccurate.” Moreover, Gopen stated that the Commission voted to approve Ravel’s participation in the conference. He maintains that the payment by the CPAA was justified because “her participation in the exchange of ideas related to campaign finance at this event is in the best interest of the agency and its mission.” Other FEC documents and public records reviewed by Breitbart News show Ravel participated in a debate at the University of Virginia on September 10, so she clearly had returned the car in California long before September 17.
All this being said, the fact that a Government Ethics report, filed by the then Vice Chairman of the FEC, didn’t get the dates right for a two-day business trip is troubling. Especially since the FEC was created as a watchdog group to monitor campaign financing and make sure all candidates dot their eyes and cross their T’s.
At any rate, Ravel’s acceptance of these luxuries are controversial given that she received them at the same time one or more of CPAA’s attorneys were representing clients involved in hearings in front of Chairman Ravel and her fellow commissioners at the FEC.
One of the matters before the commission involved convicted campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee, who was sentenced to eight years in prison in November 2012 for embezzling some $10 million from the accounts of dozens of politicians and committees, including Senator Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, and the Los Angeles County Democratic Committee.
Ravel turned out to be a key vote in allowing both the Feinstein committee and the Sanchez committees to escape significant monetary penalties imposed by the FEC for missing filing deadlines. The Commission requires four votes to take action, and Ann Ravel abandoned her two Democratic colleagues and sided with the three Republicans in these cases.
Ironically, it could be argued that Ravel should have recused herself from voting on these matters. In fact, in a similar circumstance regarding two Supreme Court Justices, Liberal advocacy groups claimed Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have recused themselves from hearing a campaign finance case regarding conservative activist and billionaire Charles Koch because they were invited to a political retreat he hosted in Palm Springs.
Meanwhile, Breitbart News is continuing to sift though FEC government ethics documents and will continue to report on its findings. As for Chairman Ravel, she will be staging a hearing on Wednesday at the FEC headquarters and interview some thirty “experts” and continue her push to regulate internet coverage of election-themed content.
Breitbart News reported in October that, the Democrats on the FEC were preparing new regulations to give itself control over videos, Internet-based political campaigns, YouTube and the Drudge Report. Ravel stated then, “A reexamination of the commission’s approach to the internet and other emerging technologies is long overdue.”