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New York: living high on the hog from campaign funds

The New York Times reports: When Michael J. Bragman, a onetime Assembly majority leader, retired from the New York State Legislature in 2001, his campaign committee had about $1 million in the bank. Six years later, Mr. Bragman is still retired, and $400,000 of that money is gone.

Mr. Bragman did not run for office again. But he did pay his wife $24,000 a year to work for a campaign committee that did no campaigning. And he spent thousands more on bottles of wine, meals at a yacht club, Christmas gifts and office rental payments to a company that he appears to control.

Mr. Bragman, a Democrat who represented a district in the Syracuse area for 21 years, offers an unusually vivid example of how New York’s campaign finance laws allow former candidates to keep spending contributions long after their campaigns end. And he is not alone.

A review of campaign expenditures at the State Board of Elections found other former officeholders whose unused campaign cash has been put to uses that their contributors probably never envisioned — and with little or no scrutiny from state regulators. While the officeholders are required to report all expenditures from their committees to the board, purchases can be listed only by general category and, when described, often without much detail. -- Retired Politicians Spend Unused Campaign Funds - New York Times

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