Campus Notebook: Rep. Sanford Bishop’s legal bills start piling up as Ethics inquiry progresses
Georgia Democrat enlists Perkins Coie for legal help
Rep. Sanford D. Bishop Jr. is the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation and it appears he is already paying a hefty price in legal fees.
Bishop’s campaign has paid Perkins Coie $78,000 for “legal services” since the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) sent its completed report — examining whether the Georgia Democrat improperly spent campaign cash — to the House Ethics Committee on Feb. 10. Bishop’s legal fee expenditures to Perkins Coie began in March.
Rep. Lori Trahan, a Massachusetts Democrat, is also represented by Perkins Coie in an Ethics panel inquiry regarding whether her campaign accepted impermissible contributions that exceeded federal parameters and misreported information with the Federal Election Commission. Like Bishop, her matter was referred to the Ethics Committee by OCE.
FEC regulations prohibit members from using campaign money to pay for dues to country clubs. Bishop spent $306 on “Membership” at Army Navy Country Club in 2016, a private Arlington, Va. club complete with “the finest amenities,” “championship golf,” and tennis facilities that are described as “a tennis enthusiast’s paradise.”
The FEC rules note: “Campaign funds may not be used to pay for dues to country clubs, health clubs, recreational facilities or other nonpolitical organizations unless the payments are made in connection with a specific fundraising event that takes place on the organization’s premises. Campaign funds may be used for membership dues in an organization that may have political interests.”
The only expense Bishop lists regarding the Army Navy Country Club is the membership payment.
Bishop has pursued fundraising endeavors at another country club where he has paid dues.
In 2014 and 2015, Bishop spent $2,463 of campaign money on “dues” at Green Island Country Club. The club, located in Columbus, Ga., has a golf course, fitness center, pool and other amenities. Since 2013, Bishop spent $235,000 on fundraising at the club. He also purchased over $39,000 on luncheons and other meals at Green Island Country Club.
Representatives for Bishop did not respond to a request for comment on the Army Navy Country Club, Green Island Country Club and Perkins Coie expenditures.
Another interesting filing: Since 2003, Bishop’s campaign committee has spent over $213,000 on gas including at Shell, BP, Chevron, Citgo and Exxon, FEC filings show.
House members now subject to new certification requirement on stock reports
Lawmakers in recent months have come under scrutiny about their stocks and the House Ethics Committee has added a new requirement making them certify they have disclosed all transactions in accordance with the STOCK Act.
That 2012 measure prohibits lawmakers from trading while in possession of material, nonpublic information they receive in their capacity as members of Congress. The law also established a requirement for members to report their securities transactions — exceeding $1,000 — within 45 days of the trade execution. These periodic transaction reports also extend to include spouses and dependent children of the lawmaker.
The new certification — announced in a June 11 memo —appears on periodic transaction reports, or PTRs. Rep. Donna Shalala, a Florida Democrat, failed to report 556 stock transactions that should have been filed on time in a periodic transaction report.
“Each PTR submission has always required a certification that the information provided is true, complete, and correct to the best of the reporting individual’s knowledge,” the memo states. “The form has now been revised to expand the required certification statement to include an affirmation that the reporting individual has disclosed all securities transactions reportable pursuant to the STOCK Act.”