Visclosky can use campaign funds for legal bills

Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.) can use his campaign funds to pay legal fees associated with a federal investigation into his ties to a now-defunct lobbying firm.

The Federal Elections Commission voted unanimously this week to let the embattled House member tap into his campaign war chest.

The FBI is looking into campaign donations from the PMA Group and its clients to Visclosky and other House members and earmarks those members directed to the firm and its clients.

The FBI raided PMA’s Northern Virginia offices in November. The firm was Visclosky’s top campaign contributor. Federal prosecutors subpoenaed testimony from Visclosky’s top aide, campaign staff, as well as documents from Visclosky’s office. In the wake of those subpoenas, Visclosky stepped aside from his duties as chairman of the energy and water spending subcommittee. He has not been charged with a crime.

The Thursday vote ratified a preliminary approval the FEC gave in a draft advisory opinion last week.  

Visclosky is just one of several senior appropriators who have faced scrutiny over the PMA matter, which has sparked a debate over the corruptive powers of earmarks and campaign donations from entities seeking them.