Sen. Hawley billed campaign for junk food on family trip: FEC records

Sen. Hawley billed campaign for junk food on family trip: FEC records

02/06/2021

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He’s got a sweet tooth — and his donors are footing the bill.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), considered a viable GOP presidential candidate in 2024, charged a Halloween ransom in junk food to his Senate campaign in March 2020, after a family jaunt with his wife and two young boys to Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, FEC records show.

The $197 in charges included: $16.87 at Voodoo Doughnut, $8.83 at Seuss Popcorn, $15.63 at Lard Lad, $13.83 at Lagoon Popcorn, $31.38 at Hopping Pot, $30.41 at Bumblebee Taco, and $80.04 at Margaritaville.

The binge raised the eyebrows of campaign finance experts who said campaign funds are strictly prohibited for any personal use by the Federal Election Commission.

“It appears to not be a legal use of campaign funds,” Ann Ravel, a former Obama-appointed chairwoman of the FEC, told The Post.

Ravel, a Democrat, served on the commission from 2013 to 2017 and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate.

Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist, agreed.

“It does warrant some scrutiny,” Sabato told The Post.

Hawley was in Orlando to participate in a family-friendly lobbyist retreat with fellow Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt’s Rely on Your Belief’s PAC, which dropped $4,680.65 on entry tickets for admission to the theme park — which included the Hawley family. Attendees stayed at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel on site.

Personal use violations are no joke. Just last year GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter was forced to resign over the issue after pleading guilty to using more than $150,000 campaign funds for both small items like fast food and movie tickets and big-ticket purchases like luxury hotels and flights for their family’s pet rabbits. Hunter and his wife repaid more than $60,000 in expenses, and he was later pardoned by President Trump.

Hawley, a 41-year-old freshman from Missouri, has become one of the Senate’s most prominent voices against Big Tech censorship — but in recent days his star has dimmed after he faced accusations of helping to incite the deadly Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill. There have been protests in his home state demanding his resignation.

“The expenses were reimbursed on Jan. 30,” Hawley’s office said after being contacted by The Post this week. “This was a trip for the respective Leadership PACs of Senators Hawley and Blunt. The event is designed specifically for families to attend. Guests are encouraged to bring their children and Sen. Blunt has been hosting it for a number of years.”

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