Have Super-PAC, Will Travel

Photograph by Paul Taggart/Bloomberg

A private jet in New York.

There was that night at the Four Seasons in Seattle.

And a couple of check-ins at the W Hotel in San Francisco.

There were dozens of flights on United — even a chartered plane.

Super-political action committees spent more than $1 million on travel for their employees, consultants and associates, Federal Election Commission data show. Those expenses were part of the more than $88 million that super-PACs invested in overhead in the past two years.

A Bloomberg review of FEC data found that 167 of the 782 registered super-PACs — defined by the FEC as “independent expenditure-only committees” — spent nothing supporting candidates with IEs while burning through donor money to pay for things like rent, salaries and travel.

Revolution PAC spent 83 percent of the $1.2 million it raised on overhead, including $30,000 for hotel stays, plane tickets and car rentals. The group pitched itself as a booster of Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential bid — and spent less than $200,000 on independent expenditures to promote his candidacy.

The bigger super-PACs flew around the country pursuing donor dollars.

Priorities USA Action, a super-PAC that backed President Barack Obama’s reelection bid, was among the best-traveled during its quest to raise more than $63 million. One consultant alone — Paul Begala, a former aide to President Bill Clinton — was reimbursed $20,000 for travel expenses.

The aforementioned W and Four Seasons stays were billed to Priorities. The super-PAC also spent more than $70,000 on lodging, catering and other items during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

The chartered jet? Majority PAC, which spent its money helping Democrats retain their Senate majority, paid $12,245 to Pinnacle Aviation Charter of Scottsdale, Arizona, on Aug. 27. The reports don’t reveal a purpose for the charter — other than “travel.”

It wasn’t all 1 percent-style luxury for the super-PACs. The FEC data show dozens of payments to travel deal  Web-sites like hotels.com and hotwire.com. Even Priorities used both of those.

See the full story at Bloomberg.com.

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