Dozens of former members of Congress and failed candidates are collectively hoarding close to $100 million in their dusty old campaign coffers. Nine of them have $1 million or more just sitting in their accounts.
Our friend Dave Levinthal at the Center for Public Integrity mined federal campaign finance disclosures and gave the Loop a sneak peek of what he found: Surplus funds.
Levinthal reached out to some of the former pols to hear why they have pocketed the money instead of, say, donating it to a charity. We urge you to read his entire report here.
Former senator Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and former congressman Mark Foley (R-Fla.) — both now lobbyists (of course) — suggested that they were holding onto the money in case they ever decide to run for office again. Foley, who was run out of town in 2006 after sending sexually suggestive messages to underage congressional pages, told Levinthal that he never thought he’d run again, but that “people tell me since, ‘Your public service was sterling aside from a bump in the road.’ ”
Several charities weighed in on how far that money could go.
“Donating surplus money of this nature to a credible, charitable organization only makes sense,” said Randi K. Law, a spokeswoman for Veterans of Foreign Wars. “Unused funds, sitting idle, do nothing to perpetuate the cycle of support that America relies on.”
Federal Election Commission rules allow former lawmakers to give their unused funds to charities, political parties or candidates, or to pay consultants, legal fees and other campaign debt — but do not allow personal use.
So when you can’t use those hard-earned dollars (the party circuit is exhausting) on a fine Lamborghini or a trip to Bali, what’s a former politician to do but stash their cash away just in case public service comes calling again?