Russ Feingold PAC spent only 5% of money raised on direct support to candidates

It’s quite the fashion among Democrats to set up a nonprofit organization and then use it to support your political machine while you’re out of office. The Clintons have done this on a scale lesser lesser lights can only envy. But that didu’t stop Russ Feingold, who hopes to take down Republican Senator Ron Johnson in 2016, from figuratively putting on a pantsuit and going Hillary. Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes:

Former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold — long a champion of campaign finance reform — founded a political action committee that has given a mere 5% of its income to federal candidates and political parties.

Instead, nearly half of the $7.1 million that Progressives United PAChas spent since 2011 has gone to raising more money for itself, according to data compiled by The data also show the group has paid another sizable chunk of money on salaries or consulting fees for Feingold, his top aide and eight former staffers. (snip)

Feingold and nine of his former campaign and U.S. Senate staffers drew salaries or consulting fees from the PAC, federal election records show. Five of them also spent time on the payroll of Progressives United Inc., the nonprofit.

For instance, Mary Irvine — Feingold's longtime chief of staff — was paid a total of $317,823 by the PAC and nonprofit from February 2011 until July 2013, when she left to take a job joining Feingold at the U.S. State Department. Irvine was listed on federal tax reports as vice president of Progressives United Inc.

Feingold received $77,000 from the two groups, one of which spent $42,609 to buy hundreds of copies of the ex-senator's latest book, "While America Sleeps." A Feingold spokesman said the candidate received no royalties from book sales to his PAC under an agreement with his publisher.

The campaign provided a 2011 email from a Feingold aide to Random House saying it should not count books bought by the PAC or nonprofit toward advances or royalties for the ex-senator. The two Feingold groups initially bought 1,000 hardcover and 100 leather-bound copies of his book.

The Progressives United nonprofit shut down late last year, and the PAC scaled back its activities in May, when the Middleton Democrat announced he would run against Johnson, the Republican who ousted Feingold in 2010.

Feingold declined repeated Journal Sentinel requests for interviews about the operations of his PAC and nonprofit. 

It looks like nobody got ten grand a month, the way Sidney Blumenthal did from Hillary, but the book-buying is pretty cute. I gues Hillary didn’t think of that. Of course, she got her advance millions in cash, and couldn’t care less if the publisher got stuck with unsold copies.

Hat tip: iOTW Report