Feds Let GOP Candidate Derrick Van Orden Pay Jan. 6 Costs with Campaign Cash

Candidates can get away with using campaign donations to go to an uprising, according to a new decision by the Federal Election Commission — as long as they save.

That’s the outcome for Derrick Van Orden, the Republican congressional candidate from Wisconsin, who dipped into donors’ money to pay for a trip to D.C., where, as The Daily Beast reported, last year, he appeared on the Capitol grounds during the January 6 riots.

On Friday, the commissioners published of them unanimous decision on July 26 eliminate allegations that Van Orden’s January 6 travel expenses constituted an illegal use of an individual’s campaign money — although they did not technically rules it is also legal.

Instead, the commissioners did not even take into account the merits of the case, arguing that the amount involved was too small to proceed with further coercive measures. The agency’s general counsel made similar recommendations in reportwrites that even when the expenditures are individual, the amount in question – several hundred dollars – is so small that it is “not worth the additional expenditure of the Commission’s resources in pursuit”.

As often happens in political decisions, Democratic and Republican commissioners offered competing explanations. In this case, those claims have one key difference: Democrats condemn the charges; Republicans were silent.

Democratic commissioners Ellen Weintraub and Shana Broussard were blunt, writing that the decision “should not be construed as legitimizing the use of campaign donations to disrupt the democratic process.

“While we hope that the events of January 6 will never be repeated — and this really goes without saying — we want to make it clear that sponsorship activities seek to overturn the results. of a legitimate election is not an authorized use of campaign funds,” statement speak.

Their Republican counterparts also quote a small amount involved, but does not take the extra step of convicting the act in principle.

FEC regulations state that travel expenses must be “directly related to the campaign.” Van Orden acronym approximately $4,000 in travel and accommodation expenses for him, his wife, and an employee. He just lost the 2020 race and has yet to announce his candidacy in 2022.

The Van Orden campaign argued that the trip involved “political meetings” that had been scheduled in advance and that the cost would be reasonable because the January 6 protest “is inherently political, like any other demonstration [p]arty events or committee fundraisers. “

“There is so much wrong with that claim,” the Democratic commissioners wrote.

“Activities intended to circumvent presidential election certification are not the same as a party event or fundraising activity,” they said in their statement. “The actions of those who broke into the Capitol, assaulted Capitol police, and committed various forms of violence, trespass, and assault are illegal. And as the Act makes clear, a donation can only be used for lawful purposes. “

When asked for comment, Van Orden described the complaint as a “weaponization of the government” and called on his Democratic opponent, Wisconsin Senator Brad Pfaffto withdraw its statement about the allegations.

“The Democratic Party of Wisconsin filed a complaint but was immediately dismissed due to its apparent political motives,” falsely said Van Orden. (The complaint was dismissed because of the amount involved; Democratic commissioners also voted to remove it.)

He continued: “The Democrats do this in an attempt to distract from their record of destroying the country over the past two years that they have left unchecked. “This is the kind of government weaponization that every American should be wary of, and every time my opponent repeats this proven false claim, he is lying directly to you.”

Van Orden also said he expected “a complete pullback” from The Daily Beast, the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and Pfaff.

Last June, The Daily Beast report that Van Orden not only attended the protest but, according to social media posts at the time, was in a restricted area of ​​the Capitol grounds.

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