October 22, 2013 8:53 am -

Saxby-ChamblissA seemingly oxymoronic figure — a conservative scholar and author who backs tighter campaign finance laws, particularly on so-called “Leadership PACs” — wants you to know a few things about how campaign funds are being used. Why, you ask? Perhaps the better question is, “When will they cue Robin Leach?”:

[A new] book details the extravagant expenses of Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, for instance, whose leadership PAC spent $10,000 on golf at Pebble Beach, nearly $27,000 at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, and $107,752 at the exclusive Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Fla. The amount Mr. Chambliss spent at the Breakers in the 2012 election cycle, the book reports, is three times what the senator gave to the National Republican Senatorial Committee during the same period.

Senator Roy Blunt, Republican of Missouri, racked up $65,000 in expenses during the 2012 cycle at a resort on South Carolina’s exclusive Kiawah Island, the book says. That was more than he transferred to his party’s senatorial committee, despite raising $1.1 million.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Chambliss said that every fund-raiser and expenditure was documented and reported according to the law, and that he gave the maximum allowed to his colleagues. Mr. Blunt’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Democrats come out looking equally profligate. The book points out that Representative Charles B. Rangel of New York used his leadership PAC to pay for a painting of himself that cost $64,500. Representative Rosa L. DeLauro of Connecticut used hers to pay for catered parties at her home several times a month.

Peter Schweitzer’s book, “Extortion”, examines the fundraising system behind the champagne schmoozing and caviar quid-pro-quos – and hits stores today.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.