FEC Likely to Approve Visclosky’s Use of Campaign Funds for Legal Bills

Posted June 12, 2009 at 11:06am

The Federal Election Commission indicated it will allow Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) to use campaign funds to pay for legal fees that he may rack up in connection to the federal investigation of the lobbying firm PMA Group.“The Commission concludes that the Committee may use campaign funds to pay legal fees and expenses incurred by Representative Visclosky in connection with the Federal investigation and other legal proceedings … because the allegations relate to Representative Visclosky’s campaign and duties as a Federal officeholder, and the legal fees and expenses would not exist irrespective of Representative Visclosky’s campaign or duties as a Federal officeholder,— states a draft advisory opinion issued Friday.The FEC must still hold a formal vote to approve the request.The Indiana lawmaker acknowledged in late May that his Congressional and campaign offices, as well as some individual aides, had received subpoenas in the federal investigation of the now-defunct PMA. Although it is not known what information the Justice Department is pursuing from Visclosky’s offices or staff, the federal investigation has appeared to target whether PMA used straw man contributions to funnel campaign funds to favored defense appropriators.The firm and its clients gave a trio of House appropriators — Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman John Murtha (D-Pa.) and panel members Visclosky and Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) — about $4.8 million in campaign contributions over the past decade, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.During that same period, those lawmakers secured tens of millions of dollars in earmarks for PMA clients.In the meantime, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced Thursday that it is conducting its own investigation of PMA and its ties to lawmakers.