After FEMA Director Brock Long became the latest in the Trump administration to be investigated for corruption in spending official funds, watchdog groups began to regard an overview of the entire administration — including a report that now-Vice President Mike Pence did the same thing 28 years ago when he first ran for Congress, only with campaign money.
Long improperly used official vehicles, which sparked scrutiny into his wider use of government funds to spend 3-day weekends in North Carolina with friends, staying in hotels at taxpayer expense and, notably, being in violation of a federal statute requiring him to maintain accessibility to secure communications in case of a federal emergency.
But even that case, and even in light of the multiple cases of corruption from within the Trump Cabinet that have already forced some members to retire in disgrace, there’s never been quite so big a fish as Pence, despite the fact that his “violations” took place so long ago.
Perhaps the reason for that is that Pence’s spending violations weren’t actually against the rules at the time and because they’re so similar to accusations against Trump himself since the money came from campaign funds. But they were so egregious — using campaign donations to pay his mortgage, golf fees, car payments, groceries, and even to pay off his credit cards — that the Federal Elections Commission actually changed the rules based purely on the case of Mike Pence and his use of donated money as a sort of salary.
In fact, half the members of the Commission at the time thought that Pence’s ridiculous interpretation of what he could do with the money that voters sent to his campaign coffers was so glaringly bad that they wanted to open an investigation into not just Pence, but other Republicans’ spending habits during that election cycle in 1990. This Federal Elections Commission document from that year shows that it wasn’t just Pence who ventured into uncharted territory with other people’s money.
Now that it’s come full circle, we can say that Pence set the standard for the rest of the Trump administration, both in bending the spending rules and in causing federal regulators to look at whether we need new, stricter rules in place.
Featured image via screen capture