campaigns

Charlie Palmer Steak, Men’s Wearhouse – When PACs Pick Up Lawmaker Tabs
Report: Congress members and Candidates spend megabucks in predictable places

Charlie Palmer’s, a white-tablecloth steakhouse steps from the Senate office building, was the favorite D.C. dining destination for politicians using money from leadership PACs, according to a watchdog report. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Want to know how to live like a Washington insider? You could do worse than peruse the latest report on improper spending in Congress. 

One takeaway: From dining to hotels to shopping, D.C. politicians do not opt for adventure, at least when someone else is paying the tab. 

IRS Ruling on Political Donation Reporting Sets Off Campaign Finance Fight
McConnell cheers, but Democrats blast decision, arguing it reduces transparency

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the new IRS policy in a Tuesday morning speech. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Monday’s announcement by the Treasury Department that it will no longer collect information about donors to some political nonprofits was met with applause from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, perhaps the leading advocate for unrestricted campaign donations. At the same time, it ignited a campaign finance fight with the midterm elections less than four months away.

“It’s bad enough to wield government power to chill political speech and invite harassment of citizens — based on what an angry mob might assume their opinions are, based on their private financial records,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor Monday. “It’s even more egregious to pursue that nakedly political goal while calling it ‘good government.’ In this country, good government means protecting citizens’ First Amendment rights to participate in the competition of ideas — not trying to shut down that competition.”

Bilirakis Campaign Accused of Inflating Local Donor Support
Said 90 percent of contributions came from Floridians

The campaign of Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., is accused of inflating the percentage of campaign contributions he said came from Floridians. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Gus Bilirakis’ campaign  is being accused of inflating the percentage of campaign contributions he’s touting as from Floridians.

In a news release, Bilirakis said almost 90 percent of support he received during the second quarter, from April through June, came from Floridians.

Farenthold Spends Leftover Campaign Funds On Lawyers
Disgraced former congressman also spent on hotel, cocktail party

Former Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, has yet to pay back the $84,000 in taxpayer money he used to settle a sexual harassment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Since leaving office in April, Former Rep. Blake Farenthold has used a substantial amount of his leftover campaign money on legal expenses.

An analysis of Farenthold’s Federal Election Commission report by the Houston Chronicle found the Texas congressman spent more than $100,000 in legal fees

MJ Hegar Outraises Carter in Longshot Bid in Texas
Attributes much of it to introduction video that went viral

The Democratic challenger to Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, out raised him in the most recent fundraising quarter. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

MJ Hegar, who is challenging Texas Rep. John Carter, outraised the incumbent nearly 4-1 in the most recent fundraising quarter, according to Federal Election Commission documents.

Hegar, a U.S. Air Force veteran, announced her campaign raised $1.1 million in the last fundraising quarter while Carter raised $265,725.

O’Rourke More Than Doubles Cruz’s Fundraising in Second Quarter
Democrat challenger raised $10.4 million compared to incumbent’s $4 million

Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, announced he raised $10.4 million in the most recent fundraising quarter. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz’s Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke raised more than double the amount the Republican incumbent raised in the second quarter of 2018.

O’Rourke’s campaign announced he raised $10.4 million in the most recent fundraising quarter from 215,714 individual contributions. 

Podcast: When Political ‘Dark Money’ Rode to Town
Political Theater, Episode 27

Political Theater

Filmmaker Kimberly Reed grew up in Montana with little anticipation her home state would be ground zero for a massive fight over money in politics. But her new documentary, “Dark Money,” tells a tale worthy of any Western, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle fight for their own prerogatives in the face of out-of-state interests gunning for them.

With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the high court’s role as the ultimate referee over money’s role in politics is back in focus. Reed and Campaign Legal Center founder Trevor Potter and CQ Roll Call campaign finance reporter Kate Ackley discussed the film, money in politics and the campaign landscape on this week’s Political Theater Podcast. 

GOP Senate Candidate Returns Contributions From Conservative PAC
FEC has questions for Club for Conservatives PAC

The Federal Election Commission sent a letter to Club for Conservatives PAC last month with questions about its previously filed reports. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

Rep. Marsha Blackburn is locked in a competitive and expensive race for Senate. But the Tennessee Republican’s campaign decided to return a sizable contribution from a political action committee that’s facing scrutiny from campaign finance regulators.

“Club for Conservatives PAC did not meet our standards for transparency,” Blackburn campaign spokeswoman Abbi Sigler said. 

Hurd, Democratic Challenger on Pace to Shatter Fundraising Record
GOP rep, opponent Gina Ortiz Jones projected to run one of the most expensive races in Texas history

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, and Gina Ortiz Jones, his Democratic opponent this fall, project to raise a record total in campaign cash. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four months away from Election Day, the race for Texas’ 23rd District projects to be the most expensive congressional race in the state’s history.

Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones more than doubled her cash on hand in the second fundraising quarter after reeling in $1.2 million in April, May and June, her campaign announced in a news release Monday.

Crowley’s Defeat Spotlights Rising Anti-Corporate Money Message
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is one of dozens of Democratic candidates rejecting corporate PAC money

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley lost his primary in New York’s 14th District on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made rejecting corporate donations a centerpiece of her winning campaign to unseat a top House Democrat. But the message isn’t just resonating in liberal areas like New York City — it also worked for Conor Lamb

The Pennsylvania Democrat highlighted his pledge to reject corporate PAC money in his first television ad in the special election earlier this year, where he pulled off an upset in a district President Donald Trump carried by 20 points in 2016.