FEC Approves Use of Campaign Funds for Personal Security

March 26, 2021 by Dan McCue
Riot police clear the hallway inside the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission granted a request from Republican lawmakers that they be allowed to use campaign funds to pay for personal security for themselves and their families.

The National Republican Senate Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee requested an advisory opinion from the FEC board in January, shortly after the siege of the U.S. Capitol that left five people dead. 

As previously reported by The Well News, attorneys for the committees requested an expedited opinion on the matter on Jan. 26, “in light of recent developments that have elevated the threat environment facing members.”

They cited the riot and the still unsolved case of who planted two pipe bombs outside the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national committees as among the reasons for their concern.

The request for an advisory opinion is signed by Jessica Johnson and Chris Winkelman, of the law firm of Holztman, Vogel, Josefiak, Torchinsky PLLC, counsel to both the NRSC and NRCC, Ryan Dollar, in-house counsel to the NRSC, and Erin Clark, in-house counsel to the NRCC.

“In light of current events involving concrete threats of physical violence against members and their families, members have been compelled to consider further security measures for themselves and their families,” the attorneys write.

“As has been well-documented in the media, members and their families continue to endure threats and security breaches, which are being timely reported to appropriate law enforcement officials,” they continue.

Previously, the commission had found that the members can use campaign funds for things like residential security systems and enhanced outdoor home lighting systems if they or their family face a threat of personal harm, and argue allowing members to hire security personnel would not be inconsistent with that and other prior opinions of the body.

When it came to home security systems, the commission concluded “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 use.”

During its meeting on Thursday, the commission concluded the use of campaign funds for “bona fide, legitimate, professional personal security personnel against threats arising from the members’ status as officeholders, as proposed in the request, is a permissible use of campaign funds under the Federal Election Campaign Act.”

It also voted  unanimously to instruct the Office of General Counsel to draft a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in connection with the use of campaign funds for personal security. 

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