The Washington Post

There’s no ‘Get Out of FEC filing’ card

(AFP PHOTO/POOL/SABAH ARAR) (AFP PHOTO/POOL/SABAH ARAR)

Facing jail time does not come with a “Get Out of Campaign Finance Reporting” card.

Disgraced former representative Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), charged with several counts of public corruption that included embezzling money from a family business to help pay for his first congressional campaign in 2002, filed his quarterly Federal Election Commission report Wednesday, which shows him nearly a half-million dollars in debt.

Renzi, who did not seek reelection in 2008 because he was under investigation, faces three years in prison. But Renzi appealed the charges and a federal court agreed in February to let him stay out of jail during the appeal.

Most of the debt is from personal loans Renzi made to his campaign committee, though he owes law firm Patton Boggs $106,157 in legal fees. Renzi’s campaign coffers only has $1,244 left – little surprise, no campaign donations came in last quarter – so the attorneys probably shouldn’t count on seeing that money any time soon.

But, the campaign got its 11-page report filed on time, so that’s something.

It’s not uncommon for politicians to use their hard-earned fundraising dollars to pay legal bills that result from their own alleged wrongdoing. In February, for example, New Jersey election officials said Gov. Chris Christie could use his campaign money to pay back bills incurred from the George Washington Bridge traffic jam scandal.

Colby Itkowitz is the lead anchor of the Inspired Life blog. She previously covered the quirks of national politics and the federal government.

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