FEC deadlocks and greenlights workaround for House members spending on charter and private flights. Personal use of leadership PAC funds should be banned.

Earlier this week, the Federal Election Commission deadlocked on, and then dismissed, a case against Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) leadership PAC that alleged the PAC abused its funds by paying for more than $5,500 in private air travel in 2018.

“This is further evidence the FEC is busted and broke, and is unable to enforce the most basic rules,” said Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee. “Thanks to the FEC deadlocking on this case, there’s now a sleazy workaround for House lawmakers to avoid decade-old restrictions on private and charter flights.”  

Going forward, this inaction by the FEC “cast[s] doubt on whether the House can enforce its ban on noncommercial air travel for members,” reported Ken Doyle of Bloomberg Government. From the story:

“Nunes’ leadership political action committee, New PAC, paid $5,518 to air charter company Paramount Business Jets in 2018, according to FEC disclosure reports. The nonprofit Campaign Legal Center then filed a complaint with the commission alleging the payment violated the House ban on private and charter air travel and FEC rules.”

“A 2007 act that toughened lobbying disclosure rules and ethics requirements for Congress (Public Law 110-81) restricted payments of campaign funds by House candidates and leadership PACs for non-commercial air travel, except on aircraft owned by a candidate or family member. The law was adopted following the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, which spotlighted high-priced private jet travel by lawmakers, including a golf trip to Saint Andrews, Scotland, by former Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio).”

“A recent report by the Campaign Legal Center and Issue One, another nonprofit watchdog, documented tens of thousands of dollars of payments for luxury resorts, meals and other questionable expenses by numerous leadership PACs. The report found $82,408 in payments for private jet travel between October and December of last year, though much of it was paid for travel by senators not subject to the same air travel restrictions as House members.”

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