Via the AAS from last week, Lobbyist spent $200,000 in leftover campaign cash on travel, restaurants.
A former state representative from Williamson County has been spending leftover campaign cash on high-priced airline tickets, boutique hotel rooms, high-dollar restaurant tabs and Apple Computer products — possibly in violation of state ethics laws.
Mike Krusee, who became a registered lobbyist in 2009, left the Texas House after the 2007 legislative session with more than $300,000 in unspent contributions in his campaign bank account. He has spent almost $200,000 of the money, according to filings with the Texas Ethics Commission.
State law prohibits former officeholders from converting campaign money for personal use, and specifically allows them to donate it to charity or to other candidates, among other things.
Krusee said he spent the money on travel and expenses associated with his membership in organizations he joined as a state representative, so the expenditures are legitimate. But the disbursements drew criticism from some quarters.
Andrew Wheat, research director for the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice, said it appeared to him that Krusee had violated state ethics rules. “This seems to be going right into his back pocket,” Wheat said. “It doesn’t look right.”
Today Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) has filed an ethics complaint against Krusee, TPJ Files Ethics Complaint Against Former State Rep. Mike Krusee.
Austin, TX: Texans for Public Justice filed a formal complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission today alleging that former State Representative Mike Krusee illegally spent at least $94,627 in leftover campaign funds for travel, dining and other personal expenses since moving from the legislature into the lobby in 2009.
Texas campaign law prohibits current and former office holders from using political contributions for personal expenses. Former office holders must return leftover contributions to the original donors, contribute them to other political committees or donate them to charity. Krusee, a Williamson County Republican, left the legislature with approximately $293,000 left in his campaign war chest. His most recent disclosure report filed in January reported that $184,800 remained in that account.
Since leaving office in January 2009 Krusee has reported some $108,000 in expenditures, including scores of payments to airlines and upscale restaurants and high-end hotels in locations that include Boston, Chicago, Denver and New York. For one grueling five-month period, Krusee reimbursed himself $7,136 for mileage, or close to 13,000 miles of travel at the state-approved rate. Though no longer an office-holder or candidate, Krusee continued to use his campaign funds to pay for administrative office expenses and to pay a former staff member $23,300 for unspecified consulting services. Krusee did not list any campaign expenditures for legal advice
Read the formal complaint here.