WASHINGTON D.C. – With its four pools, two golf courses and fish tank bar, the Breakers Palm Beach is the kind of resort where you can really soak it in.
This is where Arkansas Senator John Boozman goes to get away from the bustle of Washington to enjoy the good life with his political donors.
Over the last two years, Boozman dropped more than $40000 during two weekends fundraisers at the breakers.
He also spent more than $20000 on a suite and tickets for a fundraiser at a Washington Nationals Game.
Over the same period, Senator Tom Cotton spent more than $12000 for donor events at swanky D.C. restaurants.
He has a hold for the Ritz Carlton in Saint Thomas where he plans to hold a fundraiser next year.
All the spending comes from the two lawmakers Leadership Political Action Committees.
First set up 40 years ago, Leadership PAC’s provided a way for elected officials to raise money and dole it out to other like-minded politicians and candidates.
But critics say they’ve strayed far from their original purpose.
Michael Beckel’s organization, Issue One, conducted a nationwide study that found lawmakers around the country use the money for everything from overseas trips and golf memberships to luxury hotels and fancy restaurants.
Ellen Weintraub is the Vice Chair of the Federal Elections Commission. She has spent years trying to rein in spending by Leadership PACs.
The two lawmakers say all the spending is a necessary part of the effort to raise money for causes they support.
But over the last three election cycles records show Boozman and Cotton gave away less than half of their Leadership PAC money to other candidates, PACs or parties.
Both Cotton and Boozman declined to talk about their Leadership PACs on camera, but in conversations officials defended the fundraising efforts.
They say fundraising events are not vacation and often include busy schedules of meetings with Arkansas business and community leaders.
Former FEC Commissioner Hans Von Spakovsky says In order to raise money, first, you gotta spend it.
Spakovsky says Leadership PACs are an expression of political free speech. And there’s nothing secret about the spending.
Change would likely require new laws passed by the very people taking advantage of the status quo: Members of congress.