U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s campaign is denying accusations of using political donations for Kirk’s personal expenses.
Kirk put a caregiver on his campaign payroll, with the arrangement that Kirk would personally pay for the live-in caregiver’s help for 2 to 4 hours per day, while his campaign committee, Kirk for Senate, would hire the caregiver as a full-time employee.
The Kirk campaign provides documentation showing the Senate Select Committee on Ethics approved of the dual employment arrangement, but Kent Redfield, political science professor at the University of Illinois Springfield, says that doesn’t mean it’s allowed under election codes.
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“It’s a separate matter, a separate process, a separate authority, when we’re talking about whether this runs afoul of federal election law,” Redfield said.
Federal law says campaign funds can’t be used to cover expenses which would occur whether or not the person was seeking or holding office. Redfield says actions which have gotten other Illinois politicians in trouble, like buying gifts with campaign cash, are clearly not allowed, but he thinks there’s more ambiguity in Kirk’s situation.
Even so, with the campaign already dealing with Kirk’s controversial comments and a Republican donor wanting him to drop out of the race, Redfield says this story can only hurt his re-election chances.
“There have been a number of instances that raise questions about ethics and about judgment,” Redfield said.
Kirk’s campaign manager, Kevin Artl, points to the Senate’s approval as proof the arrangement doesn’t run afoul of campaign laws.
“In fact, even a former FEC Chairman approved the arrangement,” Artl said. “While this smear campaign against Senator Kirk is clearly false, it is even more unfortunate that it was ever allowed to go to print.”