California Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos died in 2008 before finishing his term. But that didn’t stop his campaign committee from remaining politically active.
According to a report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) that analyzed how former members of Congress spend excess campaign funds, Lantos’ committee has spent nearly $600,000 since his death.
The campaign committee still has $843,000 on hand and has received permission from the FEC to donate the rest of its money to the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, founded after Lantos’ death in 2008. Apparently, this arrangement is what Lantos wanted, according to a letter sent by a foundation board member to the FEC.
In the meantime, Lantos’ campaign committee has paid Intelligent Software Solutions a hefty $150,000 for consulting and computer services. According to the report, this company was conveniently located in the home of the committee’s treasurer, Janet Szelenyi.
Since 2008, the campaign committee has also donated $127,000 to federal and state candidates in New Hampshire. One of the candidates was Lantos’ daughter, Katrina Lantos-Swett, who unsuccessfully ran for the House in 2010. She received $2000 from her father’s committee in 2010.
The report by CREW also details additional unusual expenditures of excess campaign dollars by other members of Congress. Former Republican Rep. Bill Sali’s campaign committee, for example, paid Sali’s daughter $1,500 in consulting fees, and former Republican Rep. Dave Weldon’s campaign committee paid Weldon’s wife $6,402 and his daughter $2,920.
How many congressmen does it take to change a light bulb? Couldn’t tell you, but it costs $39. The report notes that former Republican Rep.Chris Shays was billed $39 to have a light bulb changed in his campaign office.
Collectively, former members of Congress have million of dollars left over from past campaigns. Nearly $3 million of that money was funneled into other campaigns, where more excess campaign dollars were spent than anywhere else.
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