Ex-Politicians Hoard Campaign Funds Years Out Of Office

Photograph by Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg

Former Senator Evan Bayh, senior adviser with Apollo Global Management, participates in a panel discussion at the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, on May 1, 2012.

Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh has $9.8 million in his campaign account — a total more befitting a national office-seeker than an ex-senator who exited political life more than 30 months ago.

Bayh, who has a bigger campaign treasury than 98 of 100 current senators, is among some former members of Congress who have significant surplus campaign funds. They could tap the funds to run for political office again. They’re also permitted to donate money in unlimited amounts to national party committees or charities.

Here’s a look at some other former members of Congress who still have big campaign treasuries:

Marty Meehan ($4.6 million): Meehan, a Massachusetts Democrat, served in the House from 1993 to 2007, when he resigned to become chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. Meehan’s committee sent $47,500 in the second quarter to a mix of political committees and charities.

Joseph Kennedy II ($2.3 million): Another Massachusetts Democrat, the eldest son of Robert F. Kennedy retired from Congress in 1999 after a dozen years representing the Boston area.

Mark Foley ($1.3 million): Foley is a Florida Republican who resigned in 2006 after sending inappropriate e-mails to underage male pages.

Bud Cramer ($1 million): Cramer, a moderate Democrat who represented northern Alabama in the House from 1991 to 2009, made donations through his campaign committee to Democrats and Republicans in the second quarter, including most of the Alabama congressional delegation.

Jim Turner ($991,000): Turner is a Texas Democrat who didn’t seek re-election to the House in 2004 after unfavorable redistricting.

Robin Tallon ($842,000): Tallon, a South Carolina Democrat who left the House in 1993, reported that his campaign fund made gains of $66,335 in the first quarter and $25,781 in the second quarter through a San Francisco-based investment firm.

Michael Wildes ($705,000): Wildes, the former Democratic mayor of Englewood, New Jersey, isn’t a former member of Congress like the others above — though he probably will be a candidate in a future election.

Wildes formed a campaign committee in 2004 with the idea of succeeding Democratic Rep. Steven Rothman, who was then a potential successor to Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg in the 2008 election.

Only Lautenberg sought re-election that year (and won). Rothman stayed put in the House through 2012, when he was unseated by Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell in a primary election after redistricting. Wildes eschewed a House campaign that year and endorsed Rothman, who said that Wildes “will make an outstanding congressman” someday.

What do you think about this article? Comment below!