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Harry Reid Used $7K In Campaign Funds For Capitol Portrait

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

Former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid paid a former staffer $7,000, taken directly from his campaign purse, to paint his portrait — which now hangs in the U.S. Capitol building.

The portrait was unveiled during a special ceremony held in Reid’s honor last month, celebrating the decades-long career of the Democratic leader. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden both made speeches expressing their gratitude for Reid’s dedication, and for his years of service to the nation.

A former Reid staffer, Gavin Glakas, was commissioned by Reid to paint his Senate portrait early in 2016. Glakas received a $7,000 check from Friends for Harry Reid April 19, 2016, the official campaign account of Reid, the Washington Free Beacon reports. This was not the first painting Glakas painted for the former senator. Glakas also painted the portrait of Reid’s wife, Landra, which hung in the former senator’s office.

Glakas attended the unveiling, and even added the portrait of Reid to his personal website.

Reid would not be the only politician or member of Congress to commission a portrait using campaign funds. Rep. Charlie Rangel paid $64,500 for a custom portrait using money from his leadership PAC in 2007. The Federal Elections Committee (FEC) ruled that his use of campaign funds was acceptable, saying that the move did not violate federal laws, since “the U.S. House of Representatives is an organization described in section 170(c) of Title 26 and because payment for the portrait would not financially benefit Representative Rangel or any member of his family,” the commission said in an opinion.

The funds could also be used because “the payment would not be an in-kind contribution for the purpose of influencing any election.”

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