Many of you have donated cash to a political candidate. Do you have any concern as to how your donation was used? In the case of Senate Commerce Committee member David Vitter (R-LA), a hefty chunk of his campaign funding will be going to attorneys who worked with him when he was named as a customer in a high profile Washington DC prostitution scandal. Now he’s looking to use campaign donations to cover $207K in attorneys fees and to pay himself back for $70K he already spend out of pocket, according to the Associated Press. He asked the Federal Election Commission about this, and they issued an advisory opinion to the effect that he may use money from his campaign warchest spent responding to the Senate Ethics Counsel and to press inquiries, an amount AP placed at $31K. “The Commission could not reach a conclusion regarding the use of campaign funds for quashing subpoenas or monitoring the criminal proceeding,” wrote the Commission regarding the remaining amount.
Meanwhile, Vitter’s leader at Commerce, Ted Stevens (R-AK), has been indicted for failing to report $250K in goods and services, allegedly received in exchange for use of his influence in Washington DC and in Alaska. He faces a primary challenge within his own party tomorrow, which he is expected to win, and a tougher battle in November against Mark Begich (D), the mayor of Anchorage. A judge has ruled that his trial, scheduled 9/22/08, will remain in DC.
RBR/TVBR observation: Isn’t it interesting that the FEC apparently can’t muster an opinion on this? Vitter publicly admitted to wrongdoing in this case, even if he has never faced charges and even managed to avoid testifying in the case. But that’s what he wants to spend his campaign money on – not getting elected to serve his constituents, but to wriggle out of his own personal problems. If we had donated any money to Vitter, we’d be demanding a refund. We don’t care if Vitter is in the Republican, Democratic, Whig, Bull Moose or Tupperware Party – nobody gave him cash for the purpose of defending himself in a sex scandal, and FEC should be looking out for the interests of the donors, not Vitter.