Politics

FEC Will Hold Off On Investigating Zombie Campaigns Until 2019

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Vandana Rambaran Political Reporter

The Federal Election Commission will postpone its investigation into former politicians who continued to spend residual campaign donations after they left office until 2019.

“I don’t see any reason why the FEC needs to wait another six months to begin doing what it should have been doing all along,” former FEC attorney Adav Noti told the Tampa Bay Times. The FEC attributes the delay to miscommunication.

FEC spokeswoman Judith Ingram said the agency had accidentally announced the wrong start date, leaving the impression that the investigation would start as soon as July, but really meant it would start next year, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

The FEC will scrutinize over 100 former lawmakers’ use of campaign funds to pay for personal expenses, including meals, club memberships, tickets to sporting events and concerts, telephone bills, utilities, rent and more, after the Tampa Bay Times and 10News WTSP first reported on ex-politicians use of what the outlets called “zombie funds” in January. (RELATED: Evan McMullin Potentially In Violation Of Campaign Finance Laws, Records Show)

The agency was complicit in ignoring campaign finance reports of former House, Senate and presidential candidates, many of whom never took office or hadn’t been campaigning for several years, according to the Tampa Bay Times and 10News WTSP. The candidates and former politicians took advantage of a loophole that allowed them to use campaign funds after departing from office or the campaign trail, and in some scenarios, their conduct was potentially violated election laws.

A bipartisan bill proposes that lawmakers be mandated to shut down campaign accounts within two years after leaving office and stop payments to family members.

A petition by the Campaign Legal Center also urged the FEC to place a cut-off for lawmakers to use accounts with campaign funds and detail the parameters of how funds can be used and for what expenses. Despite the 60-day public comment period ending in May, the FEC has yet to respond to the petition.

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