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House Campaigns Shell Out Almost Half a Million in Bonuses

Christmas came early for the staffers and vendors of at least 40 House campaigns that disclosed paying bonuses totaling $490,000 on or after Election Day.

In all, at least 120 House campaign staffers and vendors received payments listed as bonuses, according to a CQ MoneyLine study of campaign finance records. Republican campaigns gave out $340,000 — some 70 percent of the bonus funds — while Democratic campaigns gave out $150,000.

Rep. Tim Murphy’s campaign reported giving out the most money following the election as the Pennsylvania Republican filed reports detailing $50,000 in bonuses to the Federal Election Commission.

But after being contacted by Roll Call, Murphy Congressional Chief of Staff Susan Mosychuk said her check for $40,000 was mistakenly listed as a bonus and should have been reported as her campaign salary.

Other House campaigns following Murphy in giving out the largest post-election checks:

• Rep.-elect Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) doled out $31,000 to 11 members of his campaign staff after receiving almost 58 percent of the vote.

• Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) wrote $31,000 worth of checks to eight campaign staffers after receiving 53 percent of the vote. 

• Rep.-elect Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) gave three of his vendors $30,000 in bonuses after defeating Democrat Julie Lassa to win the seat vacated by Rep. David Obey (D).

While most of those committees handing out large bonuses won on Election Day, the campaign that paid bonuses to the most people actually lost its contest. Democrat Ann McLane Kuster paid 15 people on her staff bonuses totaling $17,000 after narrowly losing her New Hampshire race to Rep.-elect Charlie Bass (R).

“They worked really, really hard,” said Kuster, who is “seriously considering” running for the seat again in 2012. “I could not have asked for more from my truly extraordinary staff. They deserve it.”

Other campaigns that were graceful in their recent defeat:

• Democrat Thomas Hayhurst paid bonuses to seven campaigners totaling $7,000 after losing badly to Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-Ind.).

• Democrat Russell Edwards paid four staffers a sum of $3,000 after getting half the votes secured by Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.).

• Republican Beth Anne Rankin paid $3,000 to three campaign staffers after losing to Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.).

It is unknown how much was given out in bonuses by Senatorial candidates because they are not required to file the disbursements electronically to the Federal Election Commission.

Additional reporting by Paul Singer.