Today we catch up on Lindsey Graham’s legal expenses, Virginia Thomas’ campaign contributions and Alex Mooney’s dining habits.
Lindsey Graham’s Campaign Paid $350,000 To Law Firm That Tried To Get Him Out Of Testifying About Attempts To Overthrow 2020 Election
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) used $350,000 of campaign money to pay Jones Day, the law firm that unsuccessfully tried to get him out of testifying about attempts to overthrow the 2020 election in Fulton County, Georgia. Graham’s legal team took his objections all the way to the Supreme Court.
Using campaign money saved Graham from having to spend his own. That appears to be legal—politicians are allowed to spend donor funds on expenses that directly relate to allegations arising from their campaign or office activities. Federal law prohibits them from using campaign money to cover personal expenses.
Clarence Thomas’s Wife Donates To Texas Congressman
Conservative activist Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, contributed $500 to the campaign of Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) on March 31.
Virginia Thomas has now donated at least $17,000 to Republican candidates since 2010. Roy’s campaigns received $2,000 of that total.
Allegations of conflicts of interests have swirled around the Thomases for more than a year, with some Democrats calling for the justice to resign. Virginia Thomas made her donation to Roy one week before ProPublica reported that Clarence Thomas secretly accepted luxury trips from a GOP donor.
Thomas and spokespeople for the Supreme Court did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Already Under Investigation, Alex Mooney Continues To Use Campaign Funds For Small-Dollar Purchases At Restaurants
Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.V.) continued to report small-dollar campaign expenses at restaurants, only this time the funds were from his new Senate campaign rather than his old congressional one.
“Mooney’s campaign reported 13 small-dollar expenses at Starbucks totaling $536 from January through March,” reported the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The campaign classified the disbursements at “meeting expenses.”
Mooney is currently at the center of two investigations by the House Committee on Ethics. One centers on his alleged use of campaign money for personal expenses, including 220 disbursements for $25 or less at food vendors in West Virginia, totaling $3,500.
During a 2021 interview with the Office of Congressional Ethics, Mooney explained when he thought it is appropriate to bill his campaign for a meal:
OCE: When do you charge the campaign for a meal?
Rep. Mooney: Generally when I’m visiting with constituents.
OCE: Okay. So for—when you say visiting with constituents, what do you mean? Do you mean a planned meeting?
Rep. Mooney: Not necessarily, no, as I described earlier a lot of site visits I do, I just walk in and say “hi.”
. . .
OCE: So if you—lets say you go to Chick-Fil-A and you charge that to the campaign, the justification for that, being that there are constituents at the Chik-Fil-A that you spoke to?
Rep. Mooney: Yes. Yeah, I was meeting with constituents.
The other inquiry into Mooney involves allegations that he accepted a free or below-market-value trip to Aruba. The panel has not provided any updates on the status of its investigations. Mooney has denied wrongdoing.
AOC’s Campaign Manager Remained On The Payroll After Taking Blame For Met Gala-Payment Lapse
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) told investigators looking into her appearance at the Met Gala in 2021 that she planned to personally pay for her dress, hair styling and other services. The congresswoman said she had authorized her campaign manager to coordinate payments with the vendors. The invoices didn’t get paid for months though, with the campaign manager telling investigators that one bill “fell off my radar,” she didn’t have access to the congresswoman’s personal credit card and “other things kind of took precedence.”
The campaign manager’s name is not included in the transcripts of the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics’ investigation, but other exhibits included in the report identify her as Rebecca Rodriguez.
Ocasio-Cortez began advertising for a new campaign manager on or before Feb. 7.
“The staffer is no longer with the campaign,” said Communications Director Lauren Hitt in a statement on March 13.
The campaign has continued to pay Rodriguez her semi-monthly salary through March 30, though, the latest date for which data is available from the Federal Election Commission.
Hitt did not immediately respond to an inquiry.
Forbes continues to update “Tracking Trump: The Lawsuits And Investigations Involving The Former President.”
A Manhattan jury determined Tuesday that former President Donald Trump was liable for sexually abusing writer E. Jean Carroll in a department store in the 1990s and owes her $5 million—$2 million in damages for the abuse and about $3 million for defaming Carroll by denying the encounter. Your correspondent joined Brittany Lewis in “Forbes Newsroom” to break it down.
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Where did Rep. Alex Mooney (W.V.) spend $540 of campaign funds on a staff meeting in 2022?
A. West Virginia University’s football stadium
B. The Greenbrier
C. A Wendy’s in Morgantown
D. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
Check if you got it right here.