He’ll Have The Caviar…

One of the great benefits of this blog is the education I get from readers who share information with me–and a few days ago, I got a real eye-opener from a constituent of Indiana Representative Jim Banks.

I had heard of Congressional Leadership PACs, but I was unaware of what they are and how they differ from the SuperPacs and other anti-democratic entities organized following the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC–a decision that vastly increased the role of money in politics.

It turns out that all PACs aren’t the same. Some put money into the politico’s campaign; others put it in his pocket.

According to the ethics group One Issue, Congressional Leadership PACs too often function as slush funds, allowing their beneficiaries to live a far more luxurious lifestyle than they could manage on a Congressperson’s salary.

I’d not previously heard of One Issue, a relatively new organization concerned with monitoring government ethics. It is described as the

leading crosspartisan political reform group in Washington, D.C. We unite Republicans, Democrats, and independents in the movement to fix our broken political system and build a democracy that works for everyone. We educate the public and work to pass legislation on Capitol Hill to increase transparency, strengthen ethics and accountability, reduce the corrosive influence of big money in politics, and bolster U.S. elections. Issue One’s ReFormers Caucus of more than 200 former members of Congress, governors, and Cabinet officials is the largest coalition of its kind ever assembled to advocate for political reform.

The report that was forwarded to me focused on the (mis)use of Leadership PACs/slush funds by current members of Congress. The PACs were established in 1978 as accounts that would be separate from the authorized campaign committees that candidates use to run for Congress. The money was intended for use by politicians wanting to assist political allies and like-minded candidates– vulnerable colleagues or candidates running in competitive House and Senate races. The FEC made it clear that leadership PAC funds weren’t to be used to pay for lawmakers’ own re-election campaign expenses.

Today, leadership PACs are not just used by those in leadership roles. Indeed, 92% of members of Congress have them. And while most members of Congress primarily use their leadership PACs to make political contributions, new research from Issue One and Campaign Legal Center shows that scores of lawmakers are not, in fact, using the bulk of the money they raise in their leadership PACs to assist other candidates, their parties, or other political groups.

Today, it turns out that many lawmakers don’t spend the money in these PACs to assist political allies or causes, as intended.

This report shines a light on the shocking reality that far too many politicians appear to be amassing money from special interests in their leadership PACs and then using that cash to enjoy perks of lavish living that are beyond the reach of most Americans — such as meals at fancy restaurants, trips to elite resorts, rounds of golf at premier courses, and more. While such spending is purportedly done for the purpose of political fundraising, this explanation rings hollow when just a fraction of the money raised goes toward political contributions. Instead, such spending patterns give the impression that some politicians are simply raising money at one posh location to pay for the next fundraiser at the next fancy destination — creating an endless fundraising cycle at luxurious restaurants and resorts, much of which is paid for by special interest money, with no cost to lawmakers’ own pocketbooks.

It turns out that leadership PACs are “underwriting lavish lifestyles for politicians.”

Issue One looked at the two-year period between January 0f 2019 and December of 2020, and focused on lawmakers who had spent inordinate amounts on tickets for sports events, dinners at expensive restaurants, country-club dues and similar “fundraising overhead.” The report meticulously listed what it had found for each Senator and Representative.

In Indiana, the report showed that Congressman Jim Banks had raised $4,287,776 from special interests for his “Leadership PAC” and that a mere 14% of his expenditures had gone for the ostensible political purposes of that PAC–far less than other Indiana lawmakers. (Even Mike Braun spent 79% of his slush fund on the activities for which such PACs were created, and other Indiana lawmakers exceeded Braun’s percentage.)

Nationally, that puts Banks among the top abusers of these slush funds.

Isn’t it interesting that politicians like Jim Banks who are single-mindedly focused on culture war issues–the pious pretenders who constantly point to their “Christian” values and attempt to impose their misogynistic views of “righteousness” on the rest of us–always seem to be the ones with their hands in various cookie-jars?


  1. And it’s not just those in elective office who have their hands in various cookie jars. Take a look at the antics of Sam and Clarence.

  2. Not exactly a “shocking reality” that politicians are corruptly using funds inappropriately, more like “thanks Mr. Obvious”…

  3. An excellent report. Worth clicking on and reading through, then sharing on your social media.

  4. It’s not surprising at all. I’ve known Jim Banks since he first served in the Indiana General Assembly. He was always quiet at our weekly breakfasts, but looking back, it’s obvious that his professed Christian values were all about maintaining Christian White male supremacy. He showed no personality. At the time, I thought he wouldn’t last long in what to me was a very friendly, respectful and ethical environment. Have times changed, or was I naive?

  5. If someone is elected to Congress and spends even six years there, and doesn’t leave a millionaire, they either weren’t paying attention or weren’t smart enough to be there.

  6. Your selective outrage is showing!
    The “Big Guy” Joe Biden is the worst abuser except he leverages the whole
    US govt for his benefit to get his “cut”.
    Why do you think Dr Jill keeps him propped up on meds and tries to convince us he’s cognitively sound????
    He can’t find his way off a stage and he shuffles to his helicopter surrounded by his protective team… she loves the perks he’s amassed. Plus, do you really think drug head Hunter produces “art” worth $500,000 a canvas???? Access baby, access.
    But. I guess forcing people to pay more for groceries, energy, transportation and being able to kill your baby is more to you. Election day can’t come soon enough!

  7. Of course, doesn’t hypocrisy rule politics?

    They’ve aligned themselves with Caesar, so, they feel any and all money/treasure can be targeted for whatever their
    wants and desires are.

    One of the sad things is, they use God as the basis for being able to accomplish their hypocrisy. When it really has nothing to do with God!

    Politics is nothing more than Kabuki theater, based on personal desires. A majority of these politicians, I would say, maybe even a super majority no matter the party, practice this hypocritical Kabuki treasure grab! How can society function that way? The funds that these politicians predominantly use comes from the taxpayers pockets, the rest is donated by other Kabuki players in the corporate world. In the end, society and its citizens are the ones being stalked and bled dry because somehow the citizens have become the employees, and the politicians have become the masters.

    The future truly is bleak, because history doesn’t lie, and, history tells you where this all is headed, and it’s very very dark.

  8. “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”. ~ Seneca.

    Running for Congress is the fastest way to become a millionaire. The rich and powerful oligarchs need men and women to carry out their plans to become even more wealthy and accumulate more power. It’s best if you are a sociopath (flat effect for Sandy) because many are forced into alcohol or drug addiction to drown out their conscience.

    The harsh reality is that if you’re truly committed to changing the system, you’ll find yourself too busy to fundraise. This is why many well-intentioned populists, who enter politics with a genuine desire to make a difference, end up succumbing to the system’s corrupting influence.

    This is why we are accomplices to genocide and threaten the international jurists who issue arrest warrants. The MIC needs wars to make more money, no problem. Big Energy needs to pollute our air, water, and land to produce cheap energy for profits, yes, sir!

    How many Hoosiers think Republicans at the Statehouse stopped accepting bribes from the lottery and casinos? LOL

    Don’t you think the Irish and Italian mobs found another way to line the pockets of corrupt Hoosier politicians? Why do you think we have the dirtiest air and water in the country?

    Hoosiers used to take pride in their state and conservation. You can’t even eat the fish you catch because of all the chemicals in the water. This isn’t an accident.

    As I said before, the chickens are coming home to roost. China is kicking our asses on green and high-tech. So much so, we’ve resorted to protectionism. Washington makes all kinds of wild claims about China to make them seem like an adversary, but they’ve invested in their future instead of wasting money on wars and corporate profit-seeking (corruption).

    It’s going to be painful, for sure. It’s not due to external forces. This will happen from the inside out. Don’t look at Russia, Iran, or China. It’s the corrupt bums in Washington.

  9. Dr. Valerie McCray is the Democrat running against Banks. Most importantly in this election cycle, she supports a woman’s right to choose and needs all the support we can give her.

  10. Remember that we still have the vote. It might not be as effective as it should be, but that’s on us. We need to show the non voting public that we can have good government, but only if we put in the effort it takes to do it. If you believe your vote doesn’t count, you’re allowing the crooks to flourish.

  11. “Your selective outrage is showing!”
    Gail must have been looking into a mirror when making this statement, since it was followed up with the statement “…Dr Jill keeps him propped up on meds…”.
    Jill Biden’s doctoral degree is in education, not medicine; so she has no more authority to write prescriptions than the U.S. Attorney General has to command an army.

  12. Thank you, Sam. Gail, get your head out of that bunghole!
    Todd, that’s a great quote, thanks for sharing.
    Jim Banks and greed? Clarence and Sam? My, my, what a crew?!

  13. The term “public servant” used to be honorable and coveted. Now, it’s a joke. Those who are still public servants don’t get their names in the spotlight. Performers like Trump have completely displaced them.

    To be a public servant is to disappear from everyone’s screen.

  14. Yeah Sam, I knew that!!!!
    I know what a real MD is – I’m married to one.
    She doesn’t prescribe but she “manages” him.

  15. Read Oath and Honor by Liz Cheney; she discussed Banks various times. He did not look like the hero he says he is.

    I would also like to ask where Mike Pence came up with the money for his new palatial home in Indiana. Karen always talked about not having money for the Washington scene. I am thinking his PAC helped him out, like Banks. How did the Pences get book deals? Access.

  16. Gail — once again you prove that all the MAGA crowd has to offer is name-calling and smear without any proof.
    Please go live in Russia or Hungary. They will welcome you there and put you to work.
    BTW — abortion doesn’t kill babies. Zygotes and embryos cannot exist on their own. Women have the right not to be incubators just because you THINK differently. And BTW — “late term” abortion is actually a completely made-up phrase that has no basis in medicine. It’s pure anti-abortion propaganda, intended to confuse people about when abortion happens.

  17. We have some collective responsibility to bear for these conditions. Whether through lack of interest, cynicism, willful ignorance or complicity, we, meaning voters of all parties, have chosen this path.
    Of interest is the report that those fundraisers so often are occurring within the wealthiest enclaves where the 90% are least likely to be except as the help.
    When we keep electing people who spend tens of millions of dollars on campaigns for offices that pay $174,000 per annum, you might begin to wonder about the personal agendas of the candidates. Of course, those of the 10% can spend their way to even greater wealth and the power that it generates with little care for the short term expenditure that means the greater gain. It may be a gamble, but certainly not among the MAGAs in Indiana. After all, we have seen how easy it is for those such as Hollingsworth, Braun, Spartz, Shreve, etc. to buy a seat at the table. Who is responsible for those outcomes? Voters and non-voters alike.

  18. This isn’t really news. This is how Mr. Trump has been paying his legal fees for the past few years…his Super Pacs and the Republican Party coffers.

  19. gail. I would remind you that the MAGA crew has been spending lots of their time and our money trying to pin something, anything, on President Biden and have come up with zero evidence that he is corrupt in any way. I’m sure you can create a conspiracy theory to “explain” that, but your theory won’t make it true. But, hey, just keep spewing your lies about him. It’s a free country… at least unless the MAGA pukes take over.

  20. And BTW, your doctor husband should be able to explain to you that stiff joints are not indicative of dementia.

  21. Gail, I Googled your claim about the art. 11 paintings were sold for $875,000, so your claim is off by about a factor of 10. I did see a few samples of his art. It’s pretty darn good, maybe $5K or $10K per piece good, but not $75K.

    As for Banks, he REALLY stands out. Of the few people whose legitimate spending is only in the teens, he was one of the few whose fund amounted to MILLIONS of dollars, or in his case $4Million.

  22. It seems that the voting public has the right to know the sources/contributors and the amounts to the leadership funds and other Pacs and how the monies are spent. A clear public accounting seems warranted to help voters make better decisions about the candidates. Shining light on the dark money would expose motivation and direction of the candidates.

  23. Gail, I have a challenge for you. Please turn off Fox News. Just for two weeks. They don’t have your best interests at heart, and I think a break from the lies and fear mongering will get your feet back on the ground. If nothing else, it will either give you a little peace or reveal whether they have you addicted to rage.

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