What to Do with Rep. Foley's Campaign Money After disgraced Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) resigned Friday amid a scandal over suggestive messages to Congressional pages, other congressional candidates who received contributions from Foley's office are struggling to decide what to do with the money.
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What to Do with Rep. Foley's Campaign Money

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What to Do with Rep. Foley's Campaign Money

What to Do with Rep. Foley's Campaign Money

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In tight congressional races around the country, Republicans now - Republican candidates are trying to give back political money because it came from Congressman Mark Foley. He's the Florida Republican who quit last week over an e-mail and text message scandal involving boys who work as pages on Capitol Hill.

David Donnelly is the national campaign director for the Public Campaign Action Fund. That's a nonprofit group that follows campaign money in Congress.

David Donnelly, welcome to DAY TO DAY.

Mr. DAVID DONNELLY (National campaign director, Public Campaign Action Fund): Thanks for having me.

CHADWICK: How do House and Senate candidates around the country wind up with money from a Florida congressman's campaign?

Mr. DONNELLY: Well, it happens all the time, that candidates that are not in hotly contested races try to support their colleagues who are. So members of Congress who don't have an election battle will make donations to their colleagues or their candidates who need the money more.

CHADWICK: Raise money locally for their own race and then say, you know, I don't really need this. My race is looking very good, so I'll send it to other members of my party who are in trouble.

Mr. DONNELLY: Well, they'll raise some money locally, but they also raise money in Washington from well-placed lobbyists and other political action committees, and they'll make those donations spread out that money.

Now lobbyists may give to a lot of the hotly contested races, but they also might give to the chair of a certain committee in which they have business in front of, and that chairman who doesn't face a hot reelection challenge might give that money back to either the national political parties or give it directly out to members of the Congress.

CHADWICK: So Mark Foley was in what was thought to be a very safe seat. How much money did he raise and how much did he give away and where did it go?

Mr. DONNELLY: Well, Mark Foley has about $2.8 million in his bank account right now. We know that he gave $100,000 to the National Republican Campaign Committee, which is the central committee that the House Republicans have to raise money and to give it out to other candidates around the country.

He also gave sizeable donations to any number of candidates around the country, and we're seeing those donations either being offered as charitable donations from those other candidates or being given back to Mark Foley's own campaign committee.

CHADWICK: But that $100,000 to the Republican Campaign Committee, that committee is not giving the money back.

Mr. DONNELLY: Not of today, although I think pressure will build on all candidates and parties who received money from Mark Foley. I think there's - I don't think we've seen the end of this story yet.

CHADWICK: Well, if you do give the money back, where does it go? Because Mark Foley is no longer running for Congress. What actually happens to this $2.8 million campaign fund he has?

Mr. DONNELLY: Well, it's an interesting dilemma for members of Congress who have taken money from Mark Foley. They can either give it back to the committee from which it came, which means that they're giving it back to probably help Mark Foley's legal defense fund, because he's got a, you know, tremendous legal bills in front of him. And as a member of Congress, once he resigns, he can convert that money into a legal defense account.

Or they can give it to charity to try to make a statement around, you know, getting rid of that tainted money. Although, from my perspective, you take the money and you're tainted. It's hard to give back something that is so connected to a scandal. It produces another news story. It produces some more pressure on the member of Congress who took that money in the first place.

CHADWICK: So you have to say in this case, no Republican who accepted money from Mark Foley would have had any reason to suspect that this story was going to break.

Mr. DONNELLY: Well, with the exception of Tom Reynolds, the head of the National Republican Campaign Committee. Certainly he knew of these e-mail exchanges and told Speaker Hastert about it.

So Tom Reynolds not only is the head of that committee that raises money for candidates all over the country and received money from Mark Foley, he also was in a tight race himself. He is in a hot contested battle in his upstate New York district. And there's a wealthy businessman, a Democrat who's running against him, and the polls in that race are tightening.

And so he in particular is someone I think is going to have to answer questions about his - what he knew and when he knew it.

CHADWICK: David Donnelly, national campaign director for the Public Campaign Action Fund.

David, thank you.

Mr. DONNELLY: Thank you.

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