Bayh still spending campaign cash

2011-05-15T00:00:00Z 2011-05-15T23:20:00Z Bayh still spending campaign cashBy Christine Kraly christine.kraly@nwi.com, (219) 852-3030 nwitimes.com

In February 2010, Evan Bayh shocked the world of politics by announcing he would leave it.

Citing unproductive partisanship, the Democratic Indiana senator said he would focus his skills outside of Congress.

Federal campaign records show, however, the former lawmaker still is spending some of his sizable campaign cash.

According to a report filed last month with the Federal Election Commission, Bayh's campaign committee spent nearly $10,000 on various expenses during the first quarter of this year, after he left his Senate seat.

Generally, Bayh cannot, as no candidate can, use the money for personal expenses.

Bayh said, "We bend over backwards" not to violate the FEC's personal-use rules.

Campaign funds, according to the FEC, may be used only "for purposes in connection with the campaign to influence the federal election of the candidate."

Bayh began 2011 busying himself with new, private careers. In January, he became a partner at prestigious Washington, D.C., law firm McGuire Woods.

Also that month, New York City private equity firm Apollo Global Management announced Bayh would join as a senior public policy adviser.

And last month, Fox News touted it had hired Bayh as a commentator and analyst for the upcoming 2012 elections.

From January through March, Bayh spent $9,834 on travel, organization dues and other expenses.

About $1,200 of that went to air fare, $1,558 paid for hotels and $550 went to train fares.

The campaign committee covered smaller bills, including for meals in Virginia and Indianapolis, and $74.57 for cab fares in New York.

Bayh said some of the expenses were for travel and other costs spent in a hectic December, as he wound up his time in office. Some later were billed and paid for into the new year, he said.

"We are well aware of the prohibition on personal expenditures," Bayh said. "I was pretty active in December."

Part of what kept him active in New York that month was joining with other politicos -- including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Florida Gov. Charlie Christ -- at an event for No Labels, an alliance formed by officials frustrated with partisanship.

Some of the expenses in his latest FEC report paid for that trip, wherein he also appeared on CNBC, he said.

"You're going to see practically none of that nature going forward," he said. "Going forward, I'd be surprised if I did one politically related event a month."

Even as he takes on private jobs, it's unclear what Bayh will do with his $10.2 million in re-election funds, which continue to generate interest.

FEC rules allow Bayh to transfer funds to party committees or candidates seeking office, as he did for three candidates this quarter, including Hoosier Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, of Granger.

"I haven't made any plans yet," he said. "Obviously, I want to help people who I admire and support, and will continue to do that."

Bayh said he felt "a little bit burned" after giving $1 million to U.S. Rep. Brad Ellsworth, D-Ind., to back his U.S. Senate bid, only to see little additional support from the national party.

"I don't want to see a repetition of that," he said. "I'm going to kind of wait and see. What I won't do again is get heavily involved in a race" if there is not greater support of the candidate, he said.

He could give the money to charity, and keep his fund alive to use it later to run for office again.

FEC spokeswoman Judith Ingram said the agency does not comment on specific cases. Generally, she said, the FEC conducts audits of committees if it "appears not to have met the threshold requirements for substantial compliance."

If found in violation, committees may face fines.

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