Leadership PACs used for 'bougie perks,' says government watchdog spokeswoman

The vice president of legislative affairs for government watchdog group Public Citizen slammed the use of leadership PACs in an interview that aired Monday on "Rising." 

"Most people assume that candidates can't use their funds for expensive golf outings or steak dinners or taking their big donors to Disney World or on fancy trips," Lisa Gilbert told Hill.TV's Krystal Ball on Tuesday. "That's true when it comes to the personal campaign funds or their own personal PACs, but leadership PACs are a whole other animal."

"They were set up to help colleagues. You raise a bunch of money, you want to give it to a fellow representative or a fellow senator for their campaigns," she continued. "They're completely unregulated and being used for these bougie perks." 

Gilbert's comments come after Public Citizen called for the FEC to ban the use of leadership PACs for travel and entertainment.

The PACs have been used by Republican and Democratic lawmakers. 

"It really runs the gambit," Gilbert said. "We saw former Rep. Mary Bono [R-Calif.] spend $10,000 on a membership at an exclusive cigar bar. We've seen [Sen.] Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  A plan to empower parents, increase education options as an uncertain school year looms Multiple lawmakers self-quarantine after exposure to Gohmert MORE [R-Ky.] spend money on limousines when he was running around Rome. We've seen now-former Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson Trump, facing trouble in Florida, goes all in NASA names DC headquarters after agency's first Black female engineer Mary W. Jackson NASA, SpaceX and the private-public partnership that caused the flight of the Crew Dragon MORE [D-Fla.] spend $40,000 hosting folks at Disney World." 

"It really kind of runs the litany of the perks that you think of when you think of abuse of campaign funds," she added. 

— Julia Manchester