How Lawmakers-Turned-Lobbyists Spend Leftover Dough

Former lawmakers often spend excess campaign funds to benefit those close to them.

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

Members of Congress who become lobbyists often treat their leftover campaign funds almost like free money, according to a new study.

The report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which followed 57 House members who departed Congress in 2007 and 2008, found that those who go to K Street often spend leftover dough on political contributions, more so than other former lawmakers.

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The largest beneficiary of campaign contributions: House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who raked in $110,000, all from former lobbbyists.

A request for comment from the Speaker was not immediately returned.

The study also found that lawmakers who became lobbyists may either be more ambitious or just more greedy — giving 400 percent less money to charity than their non-lobbyist counterparts.

And here's the kicker: CREW found remaining campaign funds often benefitted the former lawmakers, their families and their staff, even years after they had departed office.

In one instance, a campaign committee with millions of dollars — still operating five years after a member left the house — has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in what CREW says appears to be interest.

In another bizarre case, a dead former member was found continuing to spend money, with his campaign committee paying thousands of dollars to staff and campaign contributions to a relative, the report says.

At present, lawmakers' campaign committees are not obligated to terminate at any time after the member has retired.

CREW suggests there's one way to avoid these kind of "slush fund[s]" — require a winding down of funds after lawmakers leave office.

Read the full report at CREW.

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at eflock@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.