Republicans Ask FEC If Campaign Cash Can Be Spent on Personal Security

January 30, 2021 by Dan McCue
Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. Right-wing extremism has previously mostly played out in isolated pockets of America or in smaller cities. In contrast, the deadly attack by rioters on the U.S. Capitol targeted the very heart of government. It brought together members of disparate groups, creating the opportunity for extremists to establish links with each other. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

WASHINGTON – The Republican fundraising arms for the House and Senate have asked the Federal Elections Commission whether members of Congress can use campaign funds to pay for personal security personnel for themselves or their families.

In a letter dated Jan. 26 but released by the commission late Friday, attorneys for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee seek an expedited opinion on the matter “in light of recent developments that have elevated the threat environment facing members.”

In the past month, not only was their the well-publicized Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, but two pipe bombs were found outside the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national committees, and at least two arrests have been made near the Capitol of individuals bearing several rounds of ammunition.

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, and 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.

They note that in the past, the commission has 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.’”

“Over the previous decade, the Commission has provided essential and timely guidance to Senators and House Members in response to heightened security concerns, including in the aftermath of the shootings of Representatives Giffords and Scalise in 2011 and 2017, respectively,” the attorneys’ letter continues. “The current threat environment that Members and their families face must again be met with increased security measures.”

The attorneys go on to say that while previous commission opinions related to the home security of members, “the security needs of Members and their families do not lessen when they are away from their residences.

“To the contrary, their vulnerability to potential threats is significantly heightened when they are away from home,” the attorneys argue. “Yet the responsibilities associated with being elected representatives constantly require Members (and their families) to appear in public settings, and in such settings, the most practical and effective solution for protecting the safety of Members and their families is the employment of personal security personnel.

“Therefore, just as it has concluded that the use of campaign funds for upgraded home security systems does not run afoul of the [commission’s] personal use prohibitions, we ask the Commission to similarly conclude that campaign funds may permissibly be used to pay for personal security personnel since such expenses would not exist irrespective of a Member’s campaign activities or officeholder duties.”

In The News

Health

Voting

Congress

Republicans Vow to Keep Raising Jan. 6 Questions, Despite Committee Fracas
Political News
Republicans Vow to Keep Raising Jan. 6 Questions, Despite Committee Fracas
July 23, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - As a select committee prepares to open its investigation Tuesday into the events leading up to and during the Jan. 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill, a trio of House Republican wonder what might have been. Everyone expected some controversy when House Minority Leader Kevin... Read More

Pelosi Says 'Deadly Serious' Jan. 6 Probe to Go Without GOP
Congress
Pelosi Says 'Deadly Serious' Jan. 6 Probe to Go Without GOP

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unfazed by Republican threats of a boycott, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi declared that a congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection will take on its "deadly serious" work whether Republicans participate or not.  The Republicans' House leader, Kevin McCarthy, called the committee... Read More

Greenhouse Gases Heat Up Lawmakers’ Health Concerns
Climate
Greenhouse Gases Heat Up Lawmakers’ Health Concerns
July 21, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- The million acres of forest that burned in western states in the past week were a lesser concern for a congressional panel that discussed the hazards of high heat caused by climate change Wednesday. “It’s becoming a routine part of life on the West... Read More

House Democrats Urge Biden to Permanently Close Digital Divide
Congress
House Democrats Urge Biden to Permanently Close Digital Divide
July 21, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - House Democrats are urging President Joe Biden to permanently close the nation’s digital divide by targeting federal investments in broadband to the hardest to reach areas, while also providing a permanent, federally-funded broadband benefit program to financially vulnerable families. The effort is being spearheaded... Read More

Sexual Assault in the Military Subject of Congressional Hearing
Congress
Sexual Assault in the Military Subject of Congressional Hearing
July 21, 2021
by Alexa Hornbeck

The Subcommittee on Military Personnel held a hearing recently to discuss a new set of recommendations to better address sexual assault in the military. “The toll that sexual assault and sexual harassment has taken on our military is devastating and incalculable. We know the numbers, but... Read More

DC Circuit Strikes Down GOP Challenge to Proxy Voting
Congress
DC Circuit Strikes Down GOP Challenge to Proxy Voting
July 20, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON  - A Republican-led challenge to a House resolution allowing members to vote remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic ended abruptly Tuesday after the D.C. Circuit held it had no authority to review a “core” legislative act of Congress. House Resolution 965 was adopted in May 2020... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top