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Members Continue to Tap Campaign Accounts for Legal Help in Ethics Cases

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Spencer Bachus is facing an ethics fallout from some short-term investments he made a few years ago. His campaign paid a law firm $250,000 in the first quarter of 2012.

Buchanan’s campaign did not report any notable attorneys’ fees during the first quarter, but it did pay a company that specializes in preparing documents for law firms more than $17,000 for “document copies,” according to its FEC filing.

The legal expenses of Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.) more than tripled last quarter, when his campaign reported paying the law firm Covington & Burling about $25,000 for legal consulting.

Davis’s office said the fees were related to the discovery that the campaign’s former treasurer had made about $7,000 worth of unauthorized disbursements.

“The committee self-reported to the FEC, engaged counsel, notified law enforcement, changed treasurers and updated internal controls,” Chief of Staff Armstrong Robinson said in an email to Roll Call. “Counsel is assisting with the campaign committee’s interactions with the FEC on this matter.”

A now-closed OCE investigation of Rep. Mike Thompson’s (D-Calif.) work on behalf of wine growers in his district cost his campaign another $16,000 during the first quarter of this year. The campaign paid Perkins Coie the sum in addition to the $25,000 it paid the firm at the end of December.

The investigation stemmed from a New York Times report last summer detailing Thompson’s efforts to have the Treasury Department create a designated wine region — called an appellation ­— in the first  district, where Thompson also owns a vineyard. Spokesman Austin Vevurka said the OCE voted 6-0 in Thompson’s favor and that the matter needed no further review.

The Rush Holt for Congress campaign also made a sizable outlay related to a now-closed legal matter last quarter, paying $37,000 to the law firm Genova Burns Giantomasi & Webster. Holt’s office confirmed the payment was related to what the New Jersey Democrat previously told Roll Call was a “nuisance suit” brought by a disgruntled former campaign worker.

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