House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., used funds from New PAC, his leadership political action committee, to purchase steak dinners, limo rides, and nearly $15,000 in Boston Celtics basketball games tickets, Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings show.
The expenditures were first reported by the Fresno Bee and do not appear to break any federal laws.
A leadership PAC like Nunes’ New PAC is a separate pot of money from a lawmaker’s own campaign fund, intended to help politicians strategically finance other candidates’ campaigns. In recent years, however, leadership PACs have increasingly been used to pay for lavish trips, meals and hotel stays, rather than to support political allies.
Nunes’ New PAC expenditures have been particularly conspicuous. FEC filings show that New PAC spent a total of $14,638 at TD Garden, the home of the Boston Celtics, on three occasions between February and May 2017.
New PAC dropped an additional $3,593 at the 4-star Omni Parker House hotel on May 8, the same day that the fund purchased tickets for the Celtics’ playoffs against the Washington Wizards.
2018 quarterly filings for New PAC show a number of more recent luxury expenditures. On March 9, bills at seven different restaurants in Las Vegas totaled over $7,000.
Among them: $2,365 at The Dorsey, a cocktail bar offering to serve Dom Perignon and other fine liquors directly from a disco ball as part of its “Disco Punch Bowl Pairings” special.
Exactly a month ago, on June 19, the PAC charged $5,075 to Gold Coast Limousine service and $4,408 at the Sea Venture hotel in Pismo Beach, Calif.
Several restaurants and luxury hotels show up repeatedly on the congressman’s filings. New PAC has spent over $10,000 since July of last year in frequent visits to The Prime Rib D.C., an upscale steakhouse. The restaurant boasts tuxedoed waitstaff intended to “evoke the elegant supper clubs of 1940’s Manhattan.”
The PAC is funded by typical GOP donors such as Koch Industries.
The largest donation to the PAC in 2017-2018 fiscal year came from Northrop Grumman, a defense company that was the fifth-largest arms trader in the world as of 2015, followed by tobacco company Altria Group (formerly Philip Morris). Other top donors include defense companies Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Co, and California-based dairy, almond and wine industry lobbyists.