Capitol Riot, Threats Prompt Lawmakers to Ask for OK on Using Campaign Cash for Security

Less than a month after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of President Joe Biden's electoral victory, members of Congress are seeking guidance on when they can use campaign funds for security measures.

Representative Veronica Escobar, a Texas Democrat, has asked the Federal Elections Commission if she can use campaign cash for a home security system. Meanwhile, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which help elect conservative members to both chambers, are awaiting FEC guidance on whether campaign funds can pay for bodyguards.

"In light of current events involving concrete threats of physical violence against members and their families, members have been compelled to consider further security measures for themselves and their families," the NRSC and NRCC write in their joint request on personal protection measures.

The NRSC, NRCC and Escobar's offices didn't respond to Newsweek's request for comment on their inquiries.

Escobar, who has been in Congress since 2019, wrote in her FEC request that she has received multiple direct threats that she's reported to the Capitol Police. She consulted with the House sergeant at arms after a "violent incident occurred in a shared detached garage with my neighbor" and was told to increase security at her house. Escobar's request was filed just before the violent riot at the Capitol on January 6.

The FEC determined that Escobar could use her campaign account to cover the costs of wiring and lighting for a residential security system. The FEC hasn't ruled on the Republicans' request.

Candidates and members of Congress are not allowed to use campaign cash for personal expenses, but they get some latitude when expenses can be attributed to their political endeavors.

After the riot broke out at the U.S. Capitol, additional security measures were implemented, including installation of new metal detectors, in the House. Additionally members were reminded that bulletproof vests are reimbursable expenses from their office accounts.

The Senate is set to take up the impeachment trial of Donald Trump later this month. After his supporters stormed the Capitol following the former president's "Stop the Steal" rally, the House impeached him for "inciting violence" against the government. Five people were killed in the riot, and lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence had to be taken away to secure locations.

"The current threat environment that members and their families face must again be met with increased security measures," the NRSC and NRCC wrote in their FEC request. "The party committees believe it is important that members of Congress have additional options to protect themselves and their families, if they wish."

Capitol riot
Supporters of President Donald Trump protest inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Members of Congress are now seeking guidance on when they can use campaign funds for security measures. ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP/Getty