Ceres, Calif. – Rep. Gary Condit has paid $100,000 to his two children in recent months with money from a political action committee he set up to give himself a voice on California issues.
The payments -- $60,000 to Cadee Condit and $40,000 to Chad Condit -- are included in a required campaign report filed Wednesday. The report states the payments were for campaign consulting services.
A campaign finance expert said it looks like Condit, D-Ceres, wants to drain his state PAC account before he leaves Congress in January. As of June 30, $146,481 remained in the fund, down from $277,537 a year earlier. mate," said Robert M. Stern, a former general counsel to the state Fair Political Practices Commission. Otherwise, the money would have to be refunded.
Condit, 54, lost his March primary bid for an eighth term in Congress after reports that he had an affair with Chandra Levy, a 24-year-old Modesto woman found dead in Washington in May.
Condit's state PAC is his last big source of political money. He emptied his federal war chest to pay off expenses related to the Levy case and his unsuccessful primary run.
Mike Lynch, Condit's chief of staff, declined comment and referred questions to the PAC's Los Angeles attorney.
Chad and Cadee Condit were not available for comment. During the primary campaign, they were their father's chief political aides, often speaking for their father on campaign appearances.
Tony Coelho, former House majority whip and Condit's predecessor as the northern San Joaquin Valley's congressional delegate, said the PAC payments to Condit's children disappointed him.
"My understanding is that it was set up for a statewide campaign, and it appears now to be used simply for family expenses, which seems like at the least a violation of the spirit of the law," Coelho said.
California law restricts the expenditure of political contributions for personal use.
Stern said he thinks Condit could, if confronted by state authorities, justify his children's campaign consulting salaries.
The Political Reform Act requires that the expenditures "be related to a political, legislative, or governmental purpose," without specifying whether the purpose has to be local, state or federal.
"It basically has to relate to a campaign or governmental function," Stern said. "I don't think it's ever come up where state funds have been used to help a congressman."