How Politicians Lead Lives Of Luxury Thanks To Donors’ Leadership PAC Dollars

Evie Fordham | Politics and Health Care Reporter

What does a member of Congress do since he or she cannot use campaign funds on luxury expenses like vacations or concert tickets? For some politicians, the answer is to charge it to a Leadership Political Action Committee, shows an Issue One report published Thursday.

OpenSecrets.org describes Leadership PACs as having two purposes: “to make money and to make friends, both of which are crucial to ambitious politicians looking to advance their careers.” Many lawmakers have Leadership PACs that they use to donate to like-minded candidates.

Issue One released its report listing the expensive steak dinners, hotel stays and country club outings funded for politicians by PAC donors. (RELATED: Alaska Democratic Congressional Hopeful Who’s Never Been To The State: ‘Don’t Lock Me Out’ Of Running)

Highlights include that Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s Leadership PAC has paid for $55,765 in Cleveland Indians baseball tickets since 2013. That is enough money to buy 1,856 Cleveland Indians tickets, going off of the 2018 average ticket price.

Florida Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Leadership PAC “spent $16,991 in 2013 for fundraising events, rooms, and catering at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel,” according to the report.

Broadway shows accounted for a large amount of expense items for the Leadership PAC of former Ohio Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi, who left office in 2018. His Leadership PAC has spent $64,000 on Broadway tickets since 2013. It paid for $23,310 in group tickets from ticket seller Broadway Inbound, $6,318 in tickets to “Kinky Boots” and $5,036 in tickets at a theater that Issue One said was showing “Matilda the Musical” at the time.

Former Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid’s Leadership PAC paid for $4,897 tickets from Las Vegas’ Planet Hollywood while Britney Spears was performing there in April 2014.

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul’s Leadership PAC took things international: It spent more than $11,000 on restaurants in Italy and Malta and almost $2,000 at a hotel in Athens, Greece.

The report also tallied Leadership PAC expenses by category. Leadership PACs paid for $871,000 in golf-related expenses, $361,000 at Ritz-Carlton hotels and $252,000 at Washington, D.C., restaurant Charlie Palmer Steakhouse since 2013.

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