Dem senator up for re-election busted for using taxpayer money to fund campaign travel

A GOP pick-up of a Democrat-held Senate seat looks a lot more likely now that a review of official filings reveals apparent travel on the taxpayers' dime to a fundraiser in California.

Brent Scher of the Washington Free Beacon found the smoking gun:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.) used taxpayer money to pay for travel from a visit to California for a lucrative campaign fundraiser, according to official expenditure reports.

Manchin's office made a $1,515.65 disbursement for four flights taken by the West Virginia Democrat, disclosed on page B-1429 of the Secretary of the Senate's report of Senate expenditures from April 1, 2017, to Sep. 30, 2017.  The expenditure covered three July flights between Charleston, W. Va., and Washington, D.C., and an Aug. 9 flight from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh.

A review of Manchin's campaign finance filings indicates the purpose of the trip was an Aug. 9 fundraiser at the Los Angeles headquarters of the Capital Group, a financial services firm.  Contribution records sorted by the Washington Free Beacon show the company's employees contributed $62,100 to Manchin on Aug. 9 and a total of $99,900 to him during the fundraising quarter.

The Manchin campaign made a $1,739.54 disbursement to Michael Downer, a top company executive, for "catering" on Aug. 17.  Downer's listed address on the disbursement is the address for the Capital Group's Los Angeles offices.

Manchin's office is disputing the report, but with no specifics.  Since the check was written to the company where the fundraiser happened, it's hard to understand what official Senate business was being undertaken that needed so much catering.

Manchin, a former governor of West Virginia, is well liked in that Trump-loving state and has been proclaiming his affinity for Trump as November approaches.  But West Virginians are not likely to be favorably impressed by this incident and by his affinity for big-bucks investment firms:

The amount of money Manchin received from Capital Group during the quarter exceeded the amount he received in contributions from West Virginians, which was $80,201.96.  It accounted for more than 15 percent of the $658,402 he received in individual contributions that quarter[.]

West Virginia was already a good chance for a GOP pick-up.  Now it is even a better opportunity.

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