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Figure rolling in $100 bills.
It may or may not surprise you to know that retiring from Congress does not necessarily mean you have to stop campaigning for Congress. Or at least fundraising for it.
Since the 113th Congress convened 417 days ago nearly 30 U.S. Representatives have announced they would not run for reelection, have resigned from office, or decided to run for a political position outside of the federal government.

However, even though their days in Congress are either over or numbered, retirements and resignations have not stopped many of these U.S. House members from not only maintaining their campaign websites, but also actively accepting contributions to such campaigns that do not exist.

Well, sure—I imagine the person updating your campaign website is among the first to be laid off, when you end your campaign, so there's nobody there to turn off the fundraising page?
[W]hile 11-term Alabama Republican Spencer Bachus' campaign website does include a news item regarding his retirement announcement from nearly five months ago last September, the page title is called "ReElect Spencer Bachus" and maintains a fully functioning "Donate" button that enables individuals to contribute to his non-campaign.
Please read below the fold for more on this bizarre story.

Or not. That said, I suppose there are worse ways to spend your money than writing checks to politicians who aren't even running for anything anymore. If it's between that or blowing it all on the monkey knife fight circuit, go for it.

Some cases are a bit odder than others:

[Florida Republican Bill Young] died last October 18th and a special election to fill his seat will be held in less than a month.

Even still, some 129 days after his passing, Young's campaign website is still active where one can sign up for a Bill Young yard sign or supporter pin, volunteer to help the campaign, or contribute financially online or via the mail.

Huh. Well, if you see folks with Bill Young yard signs this summer, now you know where they got them. Given their recent troubles, Florida could do worse than re-electing a dead man. Not saying I endorse the idea, just pointing out that it may not hurt him much in the primary.

Originally posted to Hunter on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 12:16 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.


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Comment Preferences

  •  This seems to be (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jwinIL14, Greenfinches

    more a reflection on GOP donors being incredibly stupid than anything else.

    29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 12:30:23 PM PST

  •  Good! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greenfinches, Egalitare

    Suck up money that would otherwise go to elect Republicans!

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 12:34:44 PM PST

  •  Electing dead Republicans to Congress? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    schumann, kurt

    Isn't that redundant? I mean who could tell the difference?

    He would be perfect in the Zombie Cabinet of Zombie Reagan.

    Blue is blue and must be that. But yellow is none the worse for it - Edith Sidebottom

    by kenwards on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 12:39:31 PM PST

  •  You could call these contributions a parting gift. (0+ / 0-)

    Punxsutawney Phil has been unfriended.

    by jwinIL14 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 01:02:00 PM PST

  •  Well... (0+ / 0-)

    I do know that some Congressional campaigns have ongoing deficits. One Congressman I know retired and held a fundraiser to retire that debt. I actually don't know what happens if a campaign closes down without paying off debt. I imagine some perfectly good businesses that are owed money will wind up out of luck. So hopefully some of this post-retirement/post-pushing daisies fundraising winds up paying off debt to small businesses owed money for past goods and services.

    FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes! Find me on Linkedin.

    by mole333 on Mon Feb 24, 2014 at 05:50:54 PM PST

    •  Deficits happen (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Candidates (or more correctly, their campaign committees) can be saddled with debts. It happened to Hillary, she ended her last presidential campaign with a leftover debt, that I actually donated to paying off.  I don't think you can normally close down a campaign if there are unpaid debts.  The books have to account for all money showing accounts balancing to file a termination report.

      It happens to Republicans too. Here in my area, Kirsten Gillibrand defeated Rep. John Sweeney in 2006. He was left with $223,587.21 of debts, and couldn't close his campaign because his books weren't balanced. He continued filing campaign finance reports with the FEC into 2013, each showing no activity, but that debt still on the books. Then somehow, he managed to get the FEC to agree to terminate and close out his campaign, apparently without paying off those debts. This was after the FEC served him 2 "failure to file" notices in 2013, since he apparently finally stopped filing campaign finance reports. I don't know if he defaulted on the debts, or what.  Apparently. Look him up. Go to and look up committee ID C00337428 then go to the filings tab for all the reports.

      It does seem dishonest though if candidates are running websites that appear they're still a candidate, and fundraising for their next campaign when they're not. They should at least be upfront that they're fundraising to retire their debt (which they have a right to do), or for some other purpose (like funnel donations to other candidates as campaign committees may do).

      •  Fogiving debts (0+ / 0-)

        I might also point out that debts of a candidates campaign committee really can't be forgiven, because I believe this amounts to an illegal campaign contribution (unless the debt is owed to an individual who can legally contribute, and is below the individual contribution limit). If Sweeney got out of his debt without repaying it, I wonder how he got away with that. It seems the FEC allowing him to write this off may be legally questionable.  An exception would be a loan by the candidate to his own campaign committee, because a candidate can contribute unlimited amounts to his own campaign.

        I expect that Sweeney took a risk in going into debt, assuming that if he won he could repay the debt from future contributions. But once a candidate looses, it's very hard to fundraise to pay off old debts. Most contributors aren't interested in giving money to such a cause.  Or, maybe (as we in his former district know) he was just a douchebag who did whatever he wanted and hoped to get away with it.

        I expect debts like this happen though, candidates may end their campaigns in debt. As long as they win, they can collect contributions and not disclose that they're actually repaying old debts, instead of using them for their next campaign.

  •  re: the Bill Young "candidacy". (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I fondly remember a comedy bit on the old Merv Griffin show shortly before a presidential election.

    Merv asked his sidekick Arthur Treacher who he planned to vote for, and Treacher replied, "Calvin Coolidge".

    Griffin said, "But Arthur, he's dead."

    Treacher replied, "Exactly.  A man I can trust."

  •  Sometimes... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hmi, FarWestGirl

    if the representative is still around and becomes a lobbyist, that extra money can be legally disbursed -- even at $2k a pop per election, you can give a little extra candy to your targets.  And of course you can take care of your party organization and anything else the FEC allows (presumably pretty loose given how energetically the FEC enforces the law).

    I find the dead-representative case amusing.  Dead voters (at least dead white voters) have long enjoyed considerable protection of their franchise when absentee voting from the afterlife.  But I didn't realize that politicians could be fundraisers while resident in whichever place they went to.  LBJ and Richard Daley are smiling.

  •  Leftover funds (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    An article from 2010

    When the late Sen. Ted Kennedy passed away, he left behind a $4.5 million campaign war chest. The official treasurer of the campaign has the power to decide where that money goes, according to the F.E.C. Up to $2,000 per election can be donated to other politicial campaigns.

    Kennedy's widow, Vicki, could direct the treasurer to carve off money for any number of charities, such as the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, a think tank organized in Kennedy's later years, or to the JFK presidential library.

    Elected officials, of course, have been known to steer money toward pet charities and causes whether they are leaving office or not. For example, the current ethics probe into the finances of Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., includes an allegation that he not so subtly used congressional letterhead to raise money for the City College of New York's Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service.

  •  Signs, you say? Pins as well? (0+ / 0-)

    It occurs to me that requests for those items would, in some small way, help drain those war chests...

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 07:22:15 PM PST

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