MARK BRODIE: Political candidates have to raise a lot of money to run for office, but not all campaigns spend all of that money during an election cycle. So what happens to that extra cash? According to a storywritten by my next guest, that money can sit in campaign accounts long after members of Congress have left the halls of the Capitol. Daniel Newhauser is a freelance political reporter based in D.C. He wrote about these so-called zombie campaigns for State's Newsroom, of which the Arizona Mirror is part. And he joins me to talk more about this. And Daniel, you chronicle several political campaigns that have been inactive for, in some cases, many years, but yet still have a bunch of money in their accounts. What did you find out about them?
DANIEL NEWHAUSER: Right, so there's really no hard regulation that governs how long it must take after a congressman leaves office to wind down the whole campaign apparatus. So in some cases, we've had these campaigns active for years, maybe even a decade or more, after the congressman is no longer in office. And in some cases they have, you know, a million, $2 million in the bank just sitting there, sometimes gaining interest through investments. And the [Federal Election Commission] FEC in recent years, following an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times, has started cracking down on this a little bit. And by cracking down, I mean sending letters. Again, there's, there's not too much they can do barring egregious spending behavior by the campaign.
BRODIE: So with this money sitting in these accounts, you said in some cases it's accruing interest. Are there expenses still if a candidate is not actively campaigning for something?
NEWHAUSER: Absolutely. The most common expense that I see is storage. And I'll give you, I'll give you an example here in Phoenix. Ed Pastor, a distinguished member who served Arizona from 1991 until his retirement in 2015, his campaign still had about $97,000 in the bank and they've been paying about $1,500 per year for storage. The problem is Pastor died in 2018, so it's kind of hard to spin that as a legitimate campaign expense. So the FEC wrote him a letter. Well, not him I guess, but his campaign. And the campaign wrote back saying, "Well, you know, we've been trying to wind down the campaign. We're trying to figure it out with Pastor's widow. And, you know, you can expect us to win this down at some point soon." But again, if they just want to essentially keep paying for that storage until they run out of money, there's not too much the FEC can do about it.
BRODIE: So what is the advantage to a candidate and a campaign of doing this? I mean, I imagine if they decide they want to run again at some point, that's helpful to have some kind of money. But in the case of Congressman Pastor, he's clearly not running for anything.
NEWHAUSER: That's right. I guess the advantage is that they just don't have to go through the rigmarole of trying to actually wind down the campaign, you know, a process that, you know, you have to, you have to terminate the campaign. You have to figure out where all that money should go and donate it and so on and so forth. So there, it might just be, you know, laziness that's keeping people from doing this. Now, I will so I will say in other cases, the benefit is that you may be able to spend some of this money in ways that on its face seem to be personal expenses. In Florida, there's a former congressman named Cliff Stearns. He pays his wife a $1,000 monthly fee to handle the accounting for the campaign, which doesn't, doesn't really exist anymore. And he also has used this campaign money, which was more than a million dollars, to invest and just in this last campaign cycle made, you know, almost $230,000. So the money doesn't just sit there. In some cases, it's actually accruing more money.
BRODIE: Well, so what are legitimate purposes for this money? Obviously, when a campaign and a candidate is done, they have some debts to pay off, they maybe have some outstanding expenses. But in a case like Congressman Pastor or any of the members of Congress that you outlined in your piece, what would be the appropriate thing to do with that money that's left in those accounts?
NEWHAUSER:Generally, when you wind down a campaign and you terminate your campaign committee and you still have money left over, you can either form a political action committee and donate all of the money you had in your campaign committee to the political action committee and then use that separate committee to make donations and so on and so forth. You know, and if somebody who is actually running or maybe actually still thinking about running perhaps a candidate lost a primary but thinks, "You know, I'm going to come back next election cycle. I'm going to, I'm going to give it another go." Well, fair enough. You keep your campaign open. You keep your money in the bank. You keep paying campaign workers and you put all your yard signs in storage and you think, "I'm going to come back in two years." The kind of hard thing to square here is when there's a candidate that's been gone for a decade, or in the case of Ed Pastor who is dead, now for more than two years, and they still are paying these so-called campaign expenses.
BRODIE: So what do these campaigns or candidates, what do they say about the fact that, you know, there's tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars left in these accounts when it seems as though, at least in some cases, there's no plans to run for office again, and maybe there are some questionable expenses, maybe not. But what did you hear from, from either the candidates or the campaign committees?
NEWHAUSER: Well, they don't say much to the public. Now, what they do say is they have to write letters back to the FEC and that becomes, that becomes public. So say in the case of Cliff Stearns in Florida, he had lost in a primary to Ted Yoho, who is a congressman right now, but is only going to be a congressman until January because he said he would only serve four terms and now he's retiring. Now last year, Cliff Stearns said, "Well, you know, the congressman said he's only going to run four terms and he's retiring. And I might, I might run. So that's why I'm keeping this campaign still alive." Well, the primary came and passed and Cliff Stearns didn't run. Now, they say this year that they're going to start the process of shutting the campaign down and it's going to take a while, but bear with us.
BRODIE: Is it too harsh a term to call these slush funds?
NEWHAUSER: Well, they certainly have been criticized as slush funds. You know, I mean, not everybody uses it that way. Some people just donate to charity or donate to other candidates. But if you have an account that is ostensibly a campaign account and you in actuality have no intention of running for Congress ever again, and that money is just sitting there gaining interest based on investments, and then you spend that money on administrative things like maybe Internet plan or a phone bill or you pay your own wife to do your accounting, then, you know, it just becomes a little bit hard to justify how these are legitimate campaign accounts.
BRODIE: All right. That is Daniel Newhauser, a freelance political reporter based in Washington, D.C. Daniel, nice to talk to you. Thank you.
NEWHAUSER: Hey, anytime. Thank you.
- Indias zombie home fund set to deliver thousands of apartments - The Real Deal - February 20th, 2021
- Zombie infection threat as country unlocks 50,000-year-old viruses - Yahoo News Australia - February 20th, 2021
- Stubbs the Zombie rises from his grave this March for PC via Steam - PC Invasion - February 20th, 2021
- Zombie Hit Train To Busan Is Getting A US Remake - GameSpot - February 20th, 2021
- Rob Zombie says the meat industrys future is unsustainable - NME.com - February 20th, 2021
- Stubbs The Zombie In Rebel Without A Pulse - Yahoo Entertainment - February 20th, 2021
- Batista Wanted To Play A Zombie On The Walking Dead, Rejected For Being "Too Big" - Fightful - February 20th, 2021
- Dave Bautista told he was too big to play zombie on The Walking Dead - NME - February 17th, 2021
- Dave Bautista Offered To Play A Zombie For Free On The Walking Dead - Screen Rant - February 17th, 2021
- Is plurilateralism making the WTO an institutional zombie? - East Asia Forum - February 17th, 2021
- REVIEW: Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead, Vol. 1 is a Comedic Zombie Apocalypse - CBR - Comic Book Resources - February 17th, 2021
- Don't Eat Pete is a zombie survival game that's available now for Android in Early Access - Pocket Gamer - February 17th, 2021
- Call of Duty Warzone seems to be teasing Zombies - Gamesradar - February 17th, 2021
- James Gunn Weighs In On Whether Zombies Or Vampires Are More Dangerous - Looper - February 17th, 2021
- The Walking Dead back on the march - Stuff.co.nz - February 17th, 2021
- The Walking Dead Turned Dave Bautista Down for a Zombie Role - Superherohype.com - February 16th, 2021
- Army of the Dead Image Teases Zombie Heist Movie - /FILM - February 16th, 2021
- The Real Life Diet of Rob Zombie, Who Thinks Eating Vegan Is Metal - British GQ - February 16th, 2021
- Rob Zombie says veganism is about 'fighting the establishment' - Vegan Food and Living - February 16th, 2021
- The Next Generation of Marvel Zombies Is Already in the Marvel Universe - CBR - Comic Book Resources - February 16th, 2021
- It Looks Like Zombies Are Coming To Warzone Season 2 | TheGamer - TheGamer - February 16th, 2021
- ROB ZOMBIE Explains Why He Went Vegan "It Is Anti-Establishment" - Metal Injection - February 14th, 2021
- Zombie Baseballs and MLBs Home Run Problem - The Wall Street Journal - February 14th, 2021
- Rob Zombie Thinks Eating Vegan Is Metal - GQ - February 14th, 2021
- This is what the DoD has planned for a zombie apocalypse - We Are The Mighty - February 14th, 2021
- 3 Cookbooks and guides to teach you how to survive during the eventual zombie apocalypse - Undead Walking - February 14th, 2021
- Call Of Duty Zombies: All Zombies Crews, Ranked - TheGamer - February 14th, 2021
- Tesla : Which is the best EV to own to survive a zombie apocalypse? - marketscreener.com - February 14th, 2021
- Here's How You Can Watch Every Season Of iZombie - Looper - February 14th, 2021
- What's The 1st Thing You'd Grab If Zombies Invaded Twin Falls? - kezj.com - February 14th, 2021
- Kennedy: Banks, communities need to collaborate on zombie property upkeep - The Daily Gazette - February 10th, 2021
- Zombies Attack Bend! [With Video] - The Source Weekly - February 10th, 2021
- Ten Zombie Comedies That Won't Rot Your Braaaaaaaains - tor.com - February 10th, 2021
- These Bulletproof Vehicles Are Perfect For Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse - HotCars - February 10th, 2021
- How a Left 4 Dead Remaster Could Revive the Zombie Shooter Genre - CBR - Comic Book Resources - February 10th, 2021
- Rise of Barnegat Light's Zombie Whale; It Starts With Dead Bigfoots, the Devils - The SandPaper - February 10th, 2021
- The Senate should do everything it can to avoid a zombie impeachment trial - CNN - February 9th, 2021
- 8 Video Game Zombies That Break the Traditional Mold - Bloody Disgusting - February 9th, 2021
- Zombie Reddy Four Days Box Office Collection, Teja Sajja's Film Is Ruling The Box Office. - Sakshi Post - February 9th, 2021
- Colm O'Regan: The perfect Valentine's Day gift - a zombie plan for the one you love - Irish Examiner - February 9th, 2021
- Zombie Reddy Third Day Box Office Collection, Teja Sajja's Film Passes The Weekend On A Phenomenal Note - Sakshi Post - February 9th, 2021
- How to Play the Witch Role Mod in Among Us | Screen Rant - Screen Rant - February 9th, 2021
- Reanimation and Zombies: Discussion with author Frank Swain - WLNS - February 9th, 2021
- Stubbs the Zombie Is Returning In a Unique Re-release From Aspyr Media - Happy Gamer - February 9th, 2021
- Author discussion to explore reanimation, zombies - The Hillsdale Daily News - February 9th, 2021
- Not Ready to Die: These 5 'zombie' cars were sold alongside their replacements - Driving - February 5th, 2021
- Zombie Reddy movie review: When the zombies attack Seema - The Hindu - February 5th, 2021
- Stubbs the Zombie comes back from the dead in March, achievements revealed - TrueAchievements - February 5th, 2021
- Prasanth Varma: Zombie Reddy doesnt make a joke out of zombies - The Indian Express - February 5th, 2021
- Stubbs the Zombie Re-Release Launching in March | Game Rant - GameRant - February 5th, 2021
- Shang-Chi Finally Found the Cure for the Newest Kind of Marvel Zombie - CBR - Comic Book Resources - February 5th, 2021
- Free-Roam VR Unleashed - The Source Weekly - February 5th, 2021
- Releasing Today: Zombie Attack On Box Office.. - Greatandhra.com - February 5th, 2021
- ROB ZOMBIE's New Album Was Completed A Couple Years Ago - Metal Injection - February 5th, 2021
- Zombie nation: Third of adults walking around in concussion-like daze due to stress, lack of sleep - Study Finds - February 5th, 2021
- Stubbs the Zombie Achievements Listing Hints a Re-release in March - The Nerd Stash - February 5th, 2021
- Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse Re-Release Hinted - NoobFeed - February 5th, 2021
- Splunking the Zombie Apocalypse - Security Boulevard - February 4th, 2021
- The Last of Us Meets The Division In Zombie MMO The Day Before - Screen Rant - February 4th, 2021
- Zombie-Bite Politics - The Dispatch - The Dispatch - February 4th, 2021
- World War Z & 9 More Of The Highest-Grossing Zombie Movies Of All Time - Screen Rant - February 4th, 2021
- AOC's terrifying account of the Capitol siege: 'It almost felt like a zombie movie' - CNET - February 4th, 2021
- Korean Zombie says he hit rock bottom and gained over 40 lbs after loss to Brian Ortega - Bloody Elbow - February 4th, 2021
- Varun Tej heaps praise on Teja Sajja at Zombie Reddy pre-release event - Times of India - February 4th, 2021
- Cold War Zombies: How to Upgrade The D.I.E Shockwave - Screen Rant - February 4th, 2021
- ROB ZOMBIE Releases New Single And Video 'The Eternal Struggles Of The Howling Man' | Scoop News - Scoop.co.nz - February 4th, 2021
- THE WALKING DEAD Season 10 "Ties that Bind" Trailer (2021) Zombie Horror - JoBlo.com - February 4th, 2021
- Feeding monopolies and zombies: Made in the USA: Socialism for the Rich. Capitalism for the Rest - The Times of India Blog - January 30th, 2021
- Hear Rob Zombie's Raucous New Song "The Eternal Struggles of the Howling Man" - Revolver Magazine - January 30th, 2021
- The Korean Zombie says he hit rock bottom and gained 20kgs following loss to Brian Ortega - BJPENN.COM - January 30th, 2021
- ROB ZOMBIE To Release A New Song This Friday - Metal Injection - January 30th, 2021
- The Day Before Is Basically The Division with Zombie-like Infected - Wccftech - January 30th, 2021
- USM Alumna's Novel Included on Best Fiction for Young Adults List - Southern Miss Now - January 30th, 2021
- Zombies and Neon Fury Star in Howie Lees Insane New Music Video - RADII - January 30th, 2021
- This $23 emergency radio is all you need to survive the zombie (or robot) apocalypse - CNET - January 25th, 2021
- The real zombie threat as the Arctic thaws and other climate briefs - Haaretz - January 25th, 2021
- When the zombies come, I will be ready - Rochelle News Leader - January 25th, 2021
- The information warriors fighting 'robot zombie army' of coronavirus sceptics - The Guardian - January 25th, 2021
- Tips To Survive An Infinite Number Of Rounds In Black Ops: Cold Wars Zombies Mode - TheGamer - January 25th, 2021
- Yungblud and Machine Gun Kelly tease zombie film-inspired 'Acting Like That' video - NME.com - January 25th, 2021
Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero