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Political Landscape:

Dreier defends his expenditures

August 01, 2009

Republican Rep. David Dreier insists that there was nothing wrong with the more than $210,000 in campaign funds he used to reimburse himself over the last nine years, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

Dreier’s campaign disclosure forms list $210,384 in expenditures since 2000 for the purpose of “candidate reimbursement,” which is not uncommon, according to the Federal Election Commission. But the commission’s guidelines for reporting expenses requires candidates to include itemized lists for reimbursement expenditures that exceed $200.

Dreier listed 94 candidate reimbursements over that period, of which 77 were more than $1,000 in value, and 11 others were more than $200. None of those expenses included itemized lists, records show.

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The expenses were not singled out for scrutiny by the commission, but were instead brought to light this week by a report in the Washington newspaper The Hill.

Dreier maintains that he has followed reporting guidelines for the expenditures, all of which were related to campaign purchases like computers, work materials or fundraising events, Jo Maney, the congressman’s spokeswoman, said of the reimbursements, the highest of which was for $7,818.

Dreier frequently uses his personal credit card to pay for campaign expenses because his campaign committee does not have its own card, Maney said. He then reimburses himself for all purchases he makes and reports the totals for each reimbursement in his campaign disclosure filings, Maney said.

“We’ve never been told that we’re out of compliance with the FEC and we’ve been following their instructions,” Maney said.

Commission spokeswoman Judith Ingram would not comment on Dreier’s specific case, but clarified that guidelines instruct candidates to report itemized lists for reimbursement expenditures over $200.

The absence of details about the expenses could raise questions for Dreier’s supporters, even though the commission has not launched an inquiry, said Tracy Westen, chief executive of the Center for Governmental Studies.

“I have no idea whether it was in fact used for the campaign or not, but I do know that failure to disclose raises questions in peoples’ minds about whether that money is being used appropriately,” Westen said.

The guideline for itemizing reimbursement disclosures is important because the step erases any doubt related to what a candidate might say he used reimbursement money for, Westen said.

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