Costs of Florida baseball, spas and luxury hotels paid from Rep. Marc Veasey’s leadership PAC

Texas Democrat’s MARC PAC spent more than $10,000

Abe Lincoln, from the Washington Nationals Racing Presidents, greets Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Abe Lincoln, from the Washington Nationals Racing Presidents, greets Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted July 30, 2020 at 9:00am

Since 2019, Rep. Marc Veasey’s leadership political action committee spent more than $10,000 on spa treatments, baseball games and travel expenses in Florida, according to a CQ Roll Call analysis of Federal Election Commission records.

Veasey’s Making a Real Change (MARC PAC) spent more than $3,900 at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Florida, on food and tickets to baseball games. The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is the spring training home of two Major League Baseball teams: the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros. Veasey, a Democrat, lives in Fort Worth, Texas.

Veasey’s leadership PAC also spent $856 at Anushka Spa in West Palm Beach, which bills itself as a “relaxing oasis” complete “with head-to-toe pampering.” It offers massages, facials and dermaplaning. The two expenditures were listed by the PAC as “event entertainment.”

Emily Druckman, a spokeswoman for Veasey, said the expenditures were for fundraising activities.

"The expenditures relate to a fundraising trip to raise money for a Leadership PAC and the spa expenditure relates to the folks that weren't going to the baseball game,” Emily Druckman, a spokeswoman for Veasey, said in an emailed statement to CQ Roll Call.

MARC PAC also spent more than $4,300 on “travel expenses” at the Hilton West Palm Beach and nearly $1,600 at the Eau Palm Beach, a five-star resort on a private beach “with lush tropical gardens” where guests are “welcomed with champagne, breathtaking ocean views and cooling tropical breezes.”

FEC rules bar the use of campaign committee funds for personal pursuits.

"The campaign may not pay for admission to sporting events, concerts, theater and other forms of entertainment," the FEC rules say.

Campaign funds may be used "if the entertainment is part of a specific officeholder or campaign activity. They may not be used for a leisure outing at which the discussion occasionally focuses on the campaign or official functions," the rules say.

Leadership PACs such as MARC PAC are different from campaign committees, however. They were established so federal lawmakers could use the funds to support other candidates for office. Using leadership PAC funds for personal use is not necessarily a violation of FEC rules or federal law.

But spending leadership PAC money for personal purchases is a violation of House rules. The House Ethics Manual broadly defines the term “campaign funds” to include leadership PAC funds.

Michael Beckel, research director at Issue One, noted Veasey's leadership PAC has contributed $29,000 to other candidates since January 2019 —or about 42 percent of the PAC's total spending.

"Raising money at luxurious locations and highly coveted events like spring training games is part of how the fundraising game is currently played," Beckel said in an email. "Wealthy donors and special interests gain access to lawmakers through leadership PAC donations and are often able to rub shoulders with them at sporting events, exclusive resorts, or fancy restaurants."