Visclosky might get leeway to pay legal fees

The Federal Election Commission may let Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) reach into his $900,000 campaign war chest to pay his legal fees arising from an FBI investigation of his campaign fundraising.

The FEC issued a draft advisory opinion Friday. If approved by the FEC later this month, it will confirm that he is allowed to use campaign money to pay his attorneys.

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The Indiana Democrat announced last month that his congressional office, campaign and staff members were served with subpoenas in recent weeks. That was weeks after he'd asked the FEC for permission to pay lawyers out of his campaign war chest.

Visclosky’s subpoenas are part of a federal investigation into whether a prominent defense lobbying firm, PMA Group, has funneled illegal campaign contributions to the Indiana lawmaker and several other powerful House Democrats.

The House ethics committee Thursday acknowledged that it is also investigating PMA and its ties to lawmakers.

Visclosky has reported sending $18,000 in campaign contributions to the federal treasury after conducting an audit of his fundraising.

Pressure has been building on Capitol Hill because of the investigation and efforts by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) to have the ethics committee investigate PMA earmarks. While Democrats have defeated each of the repeated efforts, Visclosky has voted for Flake's proposals.

The advisory opinion notes that it does not cover expenses involved in responding to the press, because that topic wasn't included in Visclosky's request.

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