Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s campaign spent $10,000 on Super Bowl 51 tickets, the Washington Free Beacon reports.
According to the Federal Election Commission, the Texas Congressman used the funds to purchase seats at the 2017 championship game between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots that was played in Houston, Texas — the home of Lee’s 18th Congressional district.
Her campaign committee bought a trove of tickets on Feb. 3, two days prior to the big game, paying $4,900 to 21st Century Fox, the agency doing government relations for Super Bowl 51. On Feb. 8, campaign manager Gerald Womack received $4,900 as a reimbursement for ticket expenses.
The campaign also burned up a similar amount of cash on Super Bowl entertainment expenses, running up a $4,901.46 tab at the Grotto Restaurant, a popular Italian bistro in Houston, and claimed that as another campaign expenses.
There was even $250 available for J. Pope Consulting, a consulting firm based in Maryland that apparently prepared a “super bowl invitation design.”
Football enthusiast Jackson Lee was in Houston one week before the game at a kickoff event when Ellis Wyms, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and tweeted a shot of himself and Jackson together at the Jan. 28 event.
“Hanging out with congress woman Sheila Jackson Lee at the Super Bowl Kickoff. What an amazing woman,” Wyms said in his tweet. Jackson Lee is proudly wearing a “VIP Preview” badge in the pic.
At the big game itself, Jackson Lee’s posted a shot of herself “on location” at the NRG Stadium: “We are #OnLocationatSB51,” she states.
Matthew Whitaker, president of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, told the Washington Free Beacon that Jackson Lee needs to explain just why a Super Bowl game was a campaign expense.
“We are always concerned and want more information when we see campaign expenditures that are not directly for campaign purposes. Campaign funds should not be used for any thing other than running a campaign,” Whitaker said. “There have been many cases of public officials abusing their campaign funds for personal expenses and for the benefit of others. The public deserves an explanation on why Super Bowl tickets were a campaign expense.”
Numerous attempts by the Free Beacon to contact Lee Jackson, her representatives and her campaign website were unsuccessful.