Lawmakers tap unspent campaign money for suits, decor, meals
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Since the election, more than a dozen state lawmakers have used surplus campaign money on suits, flights, meals, charities and office decor.
The Northwest News Network and The Seattle Times found that lawmakers have spent thousands in unused campaign donations on a range of purchases.
The Times says campaign finance rules govern how lawmakers can use unspent donations once an election is over. Among the choices, they can hold it for a future campaign, donate it to political parties or charities, or cover unreimbursed expenses related to their duties as elected officials.
Sen. Kirk Pearson, a Republican from Monroe, bought nearly $1,300 worth of suits and ties. State Rep. Marcus Riccelli, a Spokane Democrat, spent more than $1,200 on airfare to his home district. Sen. Doug Ericksen, a Ferndale Republican, spent more than $2,000 at a Washington, D.C. hotel.
Two other GOP senators have spent thousands of dollars in surplus funds to furnish their Olympia offices.