FEC: Visclosky Can Use Campaign Funds for Staffers’ Legal Expenses

Posted August 27, 2009 at 3:45pm

The Federal Election Commission on Thursday gave Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) permission to pay staffers’ legal bills out of his campaign coffers.

Visclosky’s office is involved in a federal investigation involving the now-defunct lobbying shop PMA Group. In June, the Congressman’s political action committee sought the agency’s blessing in paying the legal fees of the lawmaker’s “current and former congressional staff— implicated in the PMA probe.

Lawmakers routinely are granted permission to use campaign funds to pay for non-personal legal expenses.

“The commission has long recognized that if a candidate can reasonably show that the expenses at issue resulted from campaign or officeholder activities, the commission will not consider the use to be personal,— agency lawyers argued.

“Current and former staff members in Rep. Visclosky’s House office are involved in the federal investigation because of their current and former employment relationships with Representative Visclosky in his capacity as a U.S. Congressman and a candidate,— the FEC ruling continued.

“Accordingly, the committee may use campaign funds to pay legal fees and expenses incurred by Rep. Visclosky’s current and former congressional staff in connection with the federal investigation.—