IT’S BEEN MORE THAN A DECADE since South Florida Rep. Mark Foley was forced out of Congress for sending sexual text messages to teenage boys.
But Foley tapped his congressional campaign fund to dine on the Palm Beach social circuit four times in early 2017, ending with a $450 luncheon at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches.
Then there’s baseball-star-turned-senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky. He paid his daughter $94,800 from campaign money in the four years after he left office, only stopping when he’d bled his fund dry.
And over the past 17 months, political advisor Dylan Beesley paid his firm more than $100,000 from the campaign account of Hawaii Congressman Mark Takai for “consulting services.”
It’s hard to imagine what Beesley advised. Takai was dead that whole time.
In their political afterlife, former politicians and their staffers are hoarding unspent campaign donations for years and using them to finance their lifestyles, advance new careers and pay family members, an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times, 10News WTSP and TEGNA-owned TV stations found.
Their spending makes a mockery of one of the fundamental principles of America’s campaign finance laws: Donations must be spent only on politics, not politicians’ personal lives.
Times/WTSP reporters analyzed more than 1 million records detailing the spending of former U.S. lawmakers and federal candidates. They found roughly 100 of these zombie campaigns, still spending even though their candidate’s political career had been laid to rest.