Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss has a small problem with political scandal. Four years ago he was scolded for missing an intelligence briefing on the Iraq war to golf with Tiger Woods. Then last fall he released an unfortunate campaign commercial in which he appeared to be groping the chest of his young granddaughter.
Now, he's been caught spending gobs of Republican campaign fund money on golf outings -- including nearly $35,000 at Boca Raton Resort and $6,000 at The Breakers in Palm Beach between 2007 and 2008.
What's wrong with a little golf schmoozing for work, you ask? Well, nothing except that the Republican Majority Fund PAC is supposed to bankroll the campaigns of Republican candidates -- not feed a single politician's golf habit. Chambliss broke a golden rule of politics: Thou shalt not waste dough on a Boca putting green whilst your cronies need campaign commercials in Iowa.
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According to the nonprofit investigative journalism shop ProPublica, which broke the story, Chambliss spent $268,000 of the PAC's money on entertainment, events, and travel -- far more than he spent on fundraising consultants, campaign contributions, or anything else.
Members of Congress also use leadership PACs, such as Chambliss' Republican Majority Fund, to circumvent rules that prohibit them from accepting gifts and trips from lobbyists. Instead, corporations and lobbyists contribute to the PACs, and politicians use the PACs to pay for golf and other perks. According to ProPublica:
[Chambliss'] fund received $692,618 during the 2008 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Almost all of it came from lobbyists, political action committees (PACs) and corporate leaders.
Of course, Boca Raton Resort should be honored by Chambliss' patronage. It's an extravagant, 356-acre oasis of luxury that rivals the private country clubs on Palm Beach. If you're going to get caught wasting money somewhere, it might as well be there.