Rep. Devin Nunes Spent How Much on Celtics Tickets?

An FEC report highlights lavish spending on basketball games, wineries, and trips to Las Vegas.


|||Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom

A new report from the Federal Election Commission reveals that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) used money raised by a political action committee he created, New PAC, to pay for nearly $40,000 in questionable travel, lodging, dining, and entertainment expenses since 2017. According to the FEC, New PAC listed the expenditures as fundraising costs.

A Boston Celtics fan since high school, Nunes spent nearly $15,000 on tickets to see home games at TD Garden last year: $7,300 in February 2017, $5,700 in April 2017, and $1,588 in May 2017. In addition to the tickets, New PAC spent $3,594 on hotel stays during games in May 2017.

Last month, McClatchy reports, Nunes spent about $5,000 at six California wineries outside his district, about $5,000 on Gold Coast Limousine service during his winery trips, and $4,409 at a beach hotel located near the wineries. In March 2018, Nunes spent $7,229 at seven restaurants and hotels in Las Vegas. He has spent a total of $42,741 on "catering, site rentals, hotels and meals" in Las Vegas since 2013.

The expenditures on basketball games, wineries, Las Vegas trips, and other travel were all described as related to fundraising. The House Ethics Committee prohibits "personal use" of PAC money, but the rule is rarely enforced. The FEC says money that public officials raise for their own campaigns cannot be used for personal expenses, but that rule does not apply to leadership PACs like Nunes', which are supposed to support other people's campaigns. "For many officeholders," the Campaign Legal Center notes, "leadership PACs have become little more than slush funds, used to subsidize an officeholder's luxury lifestyle."

In a statement to The Hill, the congressman's office called the McClatchy report "yet another baseless attack" by the news service, saying "it insinuates wrongdoing while actually showing that Rep. Nunes has broken no rules and properly reported all expenses for his fundraising events, much of whose income he gives to help elect other Republicans."

Nunes separately raised $7 million for his 2018 re-election bid, a significant jump from previous election cycles, when he usually collected $1 million to $2.5 million. McClatchy notes that "Nunes' fame has grown enormously due to his position as House Intelligence Committee chairman, his friendly relationship with President Donald Trump and his controversial views about Department of Justice investigations."

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  1. I was expecting a higher number.

  2. Reason would have our betters live like commoners. Or worse, spend their own coin for the lifestyle commensurate with their station.

  3. His fundraising efforts seemed to have paid off. Nice jump in revenue.

    1. I see what you did there

  4. The scary thing is that he’s probably right in saying he did nothing illegal. Anywhere else in the world they call this sort of thing “corruption”. Here in the US, it’s “campaign fundraising” and it’s normal and legal.

    1. Everywhere else in the world they call it ‘normal business’. Its only here in the US do we even think that doing this sort of thing might be crossing an ethical line. Sometimes. If its a politician you don’ t like.

      1. We’re not completely disagreeing. In most of the world, corruption is taken for granted and no one expects people with power to behave ethically. The US stands out in that we have official laws and rules endorsing and regulating corruption, and it’s considered officially legal and OK as long as the rules are followed. In most other countries such corruption is technically prohibited and illegal but everyone just accepts that it goes on behind the scenes. In the US, we’ve just said “fuck it” and institutionalized it.

        1. Berlusconi in Italy eventually got punched for his Bonga-Bonga parties.
          I think the libertarian answer is to be smart enough not to donate to bums who aren’t going to invite you to the Celtics games with them when they’re using campaign funds.

    2. The US is on place #18 in the CPI, so “anywhere else in the world” isn’t exactly right.

      1. But my point is that selling influence through campaign fundraising is not perceived as corruption by Americans, because the law allows it and our political system endorses and requires it. That skews our CPI.

        1. Oh wow, I completely misread your post. Sorry.

  5. The House Ethics Committee prohibits “personal use” of PAC money, but the rule is rarely enforced. The FEC says money that public officials raise for their own campaigns cannot be used for personal expenses, but there’s little enforcement of that rule, either. Candidates are required to file all sorts of paperwork with the FEC but it’s often late and incomplete and the FEC doesn’t even look at the stuff. If somebody finds an irregularity and raises a stink about it, the FEC will look into it but the rules are vague enough and lax enough that “oops, I forgot about that pile of checks” or “ok, ok, I’ll give the money back” or “look, I really needed the drugs to stay awake and what’s a little blow without a few hookers” is enough to fix the problem.

    1. Or, hey here’s some PAC money for you too. Now keep your mouth shut.

    2. Pretty much. The only time it’s actually enforced is as political retribution for someone who pissed off the wrong Illuminati

  6. If there were not so many stupid rules concerning fundraising this would not be an issue.

    Let people donate as they wish. Let the candidates or incumbents spend as they wish.

    Every bit of of these election regulations violates the 1A.

    1. I agree with getting rid of the rules that limit or prohibit certain donations or certain types of spending.
      But I don’t think it’s unreasonable, or even unlibertarian, to require disclosure of contributions and spending.

      1. To play devil’s advocate, why should I be forced to disclose that I exercised my first amendment right?

        1. That’s right. I might not want my neighbors or business associates to know who I support.

          1. The assumption is that government is supposed to be transperant so its a public interest to find out from whom and how much politicians are getting.

      2. Remember the IRS scandals with tea party groups? Or the “un-Koch our campus” crap?

      3. Completely disagree. It’s no one else’s damn business who I contribute money to, and if people want to give their money to an idiot politician who is going to waste it and doesn’t give a fuck about you anyway, let them.

        1. I completely agree with you on no limits on giving or receiving money, by anyone.
          And I completely agree with you that it’s no one else’s business if two private people want to exchange money for any reason.
          The problem arises, in my mind, when one of those people in the transaction exert coercive power over all of us, as a politician or even as a regulator or bureaucrat.
          Because this person is supposed to be using this power for the pursuit and defense of our liberty, and not for personal enrichment or any other purpose.

          1. Lol. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if that were the case.

          2. The solution, then, is to not give him your money.

          3. “The problem arises, in my mind, when one of those people in the transaction exert coercive power over all of us, as a politician or even as a regulator or bureaucrat.”
            The obvious solution is to limit the power of the government, since the alternative is to limit freedom of speech.

            1. But no matter how small the government is, as long as it is bigger than zero, you will always have the potential for corruption and bribery.

              Again I am not in favor of limiting anyone’s speech in the form of donations to anyone at all. What I have a small problem with is that all of these donations, *to a person holding coercive power over all of us*, are completely anonymous.

  7. Gee, I’m shocked .

    No, not really.

  8. It is wonderful that the media has decided to take an adversarial approach to lying policitcos. That’s their job. I’m just sorry it took the election of Trump to cause them to do so:
    “Claim: Pelosi spent over $100,000 on food and alcohol.
    Fact: Her delegations did spend that amount, but not just on food and booze. (And Pelosi doesn’t drink.)”
    You’ll also notice that to the folks who admit she did do, they hasten to point out ‘she doesn’s drink’, as if that were worth shit to other than Tony et al.

  9. Oooooooooooopoohhhhhhhhhhhh!

  10. Oh this is that new idiot who doesn’t fact check anything.

    1. He also is falling for the TDs tractor beam.

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