But for former representative David Rivera (R-Fla.), doing just that might have put him on the wrong side of the law. Rivera’s most recent campaign finance filings (he’s not a candidate anymore but his old campaign still carries debt, and so he must submit reports to the Federal Election Commission) show that he used $400 in campaign money to pay for membership at the Capitol Hill Club, the private GOP enclave on Capitol Hill that functions kind of like a country club for the Republican set.
The facility, just steps away from House office buildings, has a bar and some meeting rooms, and we hear the prime rib specials are darn tasty.
But dropping campaign cash there is a no-no, notes Brett Kappel, a campaign-finance attorney at Arent Fox. By law, candidates can’t spend campaign money on “country club memberships” or “health clubs and recreational facilities.”
The FEC’s implementing regulations put an even finer point on the ban against paying dues out of one’s political war chest. Among the prohibited uses of campaign money are “dues, fees or gratuities at a country club, health club, recreational facility or other nonpolitical organization, unless they are part of the costs of a specific fundraising event that takes place on the organization’s premises.”
But perhaps he should follow Groucho Marx’s old rule about never joining clubs that would have him as a member.