Murtha’s Campaign Committee Stays Active After His Death

Posted July 9, 2010 at 12:13pm

Updated: 4:58 p.m.

Over the past three months, the campaign committee for the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) disbursed nearly two-thirds of the $270,000 that remained in the late Congressman’s account as of April 1, according to reports filed by the committee’s treasurer this week.

About $108,000 of the $192,000 the committee spent in the second quarter went toward refunds to individual donors and various political action committees. The committee reported about $60,000 in operating expenditures, $20,000 in charitable donations to the John P. Murtha Foundation that was set up by his family after his death in February and $4,000 in campaign contributions.

Both of the committee’s campaign donations went to the campaign committee of Rep. Mark Critz (D), a former Murtha staffer who won the special election in May to replace the Congressman.

Murtha’s committee had about $106,000 left in the bank as of June 30.

Murtha’s committee reported about $11,000 in public relations and fundraising payments to the firm of Murtha’s former fundraiser, Susan O’Neill. O’Neill is organizing a fundraiser for the John P. Murtha Foundation later this month. Tickets to that event, which will be headlined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), start at $1,000.

Another line item on the committee’s report was about $27,000 in receipts from the sale of an automobile to a car dealership in Johnstown, Pa.

Mary Brandenberger, a spokeswoman for the Federal Election Commission, said that typically, the treasurer of a campaign committee is legally charged with taking in and distributing money from a campaign account in the event of a Member’s death.

Patrick McGlynn, Murtha’s deputy treasurer, could not be reached for comment on the report Friday morning.

“Even when people pass on to the next world, your campaign account is still in this world,” said Michael Toner, a former chairman of the FEC. Toner said generally in those situations the campaign treasurer makes committee spending decisions with members of the late Congressman’s inner circle.

“Over time, there tends to be consultation with people who have a good sense of how the Congressman would like to have spent those funds, people who were close to the Congressman politically and philosophically,” Toner said.

FEC laws allow a late Member’s committee to make unlimited contributions to charitable organizations as well as unlimited donations to state and national political committees. The committee would have to abide by state and national limits in making donations to specific candidates for local and federal offices.