The fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars for luxury hotels, nightclubs and tickets to Las Vegas events during the 2018 election cycle, filings to the Federal Election Commission show.
During the cycle, the caucus's Bold PAC pulled in $9.5 million in contributions -- in reaction to President Trump’s policies, said Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., who chairs the PAC, according to a report.
Also in that time, the Hispanic caucus paid out more than $200,000 for catering, hotel stays and fees at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa, and Marina in Cambridge, Md.
Nearly $50,000 was spent on a Las Vegas Caesar’s Palace event, and $6,000 at the nearby Omnia Nightclub. Another $60,000 went toward food and lodging at the ARIA Resort & Casino and thousands more bought tickets for an event at the luxurious Bellagio hotel and tickets for a Michael Jackson One concert.
Other funds went to tours and restaurants, the federal records show, according to the Washington Free Beacon.
The caucus also gave contributions to the Latino Victory Fund, a progressive PAC that aims to increase Latino political power in all levels of government.
The Bold PAC has come under fire from conservatives for its recent trip to Puerto Rico during the ongoing partial government shutdown. Around 30 Democrats, their families, and more than 100 lobbyists met with Puerto Rican officials to discuss cleanup efforts from Hurricane Maria and attended a viewing of the hit Broadway play “Hamilton.”
"Democrats in Congress are so alarmed about federal workers not getting paid they're partying on the beach instead of negotiating a compromise to reopen the government and secure the border," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said of the trip.
In defense of the excursion, Cardenas said that planning began more than a year in advance and that the lawmakers attended primarily to work.
"We started planning this a year ago and just because there's a Trump shutdown, it doesn't mean that the world is going to stop," Cárdenas told the Hill. "We appreciate and respect every single worker who's being punished by Donald Trump. But at the same time there's over 3.2 million Puerto Rican American citizens on this island that deserve for us to continue to do our job."
Nevertheless, a chartered jet carrying politicians and their families to a sunny Caribbean island during the winter, and the circulation of a photo showing a shirtless U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., on the beach, created some awkward optics for the group.
“While [President Trump] is in DC working to resolve the government shutdown and secure our border, Democrats are hitting the beach and partying with lobbyists,” GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted.
That same chartered jet also brought 250 pounds of donated medical supplies to help the island recover from the September 2017 hurricane.