Watchdog Accuses Rep. Mike Kelly of Using PAC Funds for Luxury Trips, Dining and Gifts

The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog, accused GOP Congressman Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania of misusing funds in his leadership PAC to purchase "appreciation gifts," "luxury trips, transportation, and dining."

In making these alleged purchases, the group contends that Kelly violated House rules governing the use of PAC funds. The center asked that this matter be investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).

"Members of Congress are clearly prohibited by House rules from using leadership PACs as personal slush funds. When elected officials use campaign contributions to enrich themselves, they undermine the public's trust in their elected officials and the campaign finance system," the group wrote.

"Based on Rep. Kelly's remarkably small leadership PAC expenses on political contributions and significant amount spent on luxury travel, dining, event tickets, and gifts, the OCE should require him to verify that he has complied with House rules," the center added.

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Rep. Mike Kelly faces a potential investigation for his spending habits. Above, Kelly speaks during a hearing before the House Ways and Means Committee June 4, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

In its statement to the OCE, the center reported that from 2019 to 2020 Kelly's leadership PAC spent close to $78,000 at St. Regis Deer Valley, a five-star resort in Park City, Utah. These expenses included over $18,000 worth of lodging on four separate dates, nearly $600 in limousine services, over $300 in "hotel services," and another $300 plus in food and beverages.

The other Park City payments were less transparent, according to the report. Almost $16,000 went toward "unspecified purposes." In records reviewed by the center, these expenses were allegedly listed as question marks and "see memos" with no further details provided.

During this same period, Kelly also took a number of other trips, according to the report. It states that his PAC "paid large sums" to luxurious hotels and resorts in Sea Island, Georgia; Las Vegas; and Palm Beach, Florida.

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According to the report, the St. Regis Deer Valley resort was a favorite for Rep. Mike Kelly. Above, general view of The St. Regis Deer Valley on January 20, 2018 in Park City, Utah. Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images for HBO

The group said that these costs included over $19,000 at the Sea Island Company, which owns the Sea Island Resort in Georgia, and $3,000 went to three Las Vegas hotels—the Wynn Las Vegas, Four Seasons Las Vegas and the Venetian Resort. Over $5,000 was spent at The Breakers, a five-star establishment in Palm Beach.

In addition to the travel, Kelly's PAC allegedly spent nearly $20,000 on airfare, $2,000 on Amtrak tickets, $2,000 on "evening tickets," $200 on "appreciation gifts" and $7,000 on dining.

"The purpose of leadership PACs is to enable lawmakers to raise and spend campaign funds for their colleagues running in competitive House and Senate districts," the center wrote. "Rep. Kelly's leadership PAC does not appear to prioritize spending on such political expenses because only 22 percent of the roughly $205,000 spent by Rep. Kelly's leadership PAC from 2019 to 2020 went toward other candidates and political parties and groups."