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Loaning a Campaign Cash but Not Writing It Down

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FEC records indicate Rep. Paul Broun’s campaign paid him nearly $29,000 in “operating expenses/loan interest” in 2010.

Broun’s office did not respond to telephone calls or an e-mail for this article.

Freshman Rep. Larry Bucshon loaned his campaign $55,000 in March 2010, which has since been repaid along with $1,500 in interest.

The Indiana Republican did not list the loan on his most recent financial disclosure, which covered January 2009 through April 2010. 

“It was an unintentional mistake that has been reconciled and clarified in an amended disclosure form that has been submitted to the Office of the Clerk,” Bucshon spokesman Matthew Ballard said.

Although the details about candidate-funded loans and related payments are publicly available via campaign finance reports, Campaign Legal Center Policy Director Meredith McGehee said omitting such information from personal financial reports is troubling. 

“You’re not really getting a full picture of the magnitude of the assets that a Member of Congress or a federal official has,” McGehee said of the financial disclosures. “It is often a tool of those who want to muddy up the picture to keep those pieces in as many places as possible.”

Members offered a variety of explanations for the omissions, and several cited errors on their campaign finance reports, stating that they should have listed a zero percent rate or that they had no intention of paying interest to themselves.

In his most recent campaign finance report filed in January, Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco reported outstanding loans worth more than $900,000 from the 2008 election cycle, each with a .05 percent interest rate. 

The Texas Republican reported no loans on his most recent financial disclosure report. But a Canseco aide said that the FEC reports were filed in error and that the interest rate on those loans should be zero. 

Members are not required to disclose loans to their campaigns on their annual financial reports if they do not receive interest from the loan.

Rep. Lou Barletta similarly reported nearly $88,000 in outstanding loans from the 2002, 2004 and 2006 cycles, each with interest rates of .0525 percent. The loans did not appear on the Pennsylvania Republican’s most recent personal financial disclosure report.

But Barletta’s campaign manager, Lance Stange, said no interest has accrued on any of the loans and cited the reported interest rates as a “clerical error.”

“Congressman Barletta’s financial disclosure statement is correct as it is written,” Stange said. 

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) also reported making a $500,000 loan to his campaign in September 2009, all but $50,000 of which had been repaid at the end of the 2010 cycle, according to an FEC report filed in January. 

Although the interest rate for that loan is listed in the FEC report as “floating,” McCaul spokesman Mike Rosen said, “The McCauls don’t charge interest when they loan money to the campaign.”

Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) made four loans totaling $90,000 to his now-defunct Senate campaign committee in late 2009. Although each of the loans lists a 4 percent interest rate, they did not appear on his financial disclosure for that year.

“Congressman Capuano properly lists the outstanding loan he personally made to his campaign and lists an interest rate simply because FEC rules require it,” said his spokeswoman, Alison Mills. “He has never intended to pay himself interest, has not done so and will not do so in the future.”

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