A Senator’s principal campaign committee may use campaign funds to pay the costs of certain security installations and upgrades to the Senator’s homes to protect against threats arising from his status as a federal officeholder.
Mike Crapo for U.S. Senate (the Committee) is the principal campaign committee for Senator Michael D. Crapo of Idaho. The Committee lists numerous instances of past and present “concrete threats of physical violence against Members [of Congress] and their families,” and states that the “current threat environment that Members and their families face must again be met with increased security measures.”
The U.S. Capitol Police recently surveyed the Senator’s homes in Idaho and Washington, D.C., and provided security recommendations. The surveys explain that as “a Member of Congress, one may become the target of potential acts of terrorism, civil disobedience, civil disturbance, threats of violence, theft of services, theft of physical or intellectual property, burglary, vandalism, other acts of criminal mischief, and unauthorized trespassing.”
U.S. Capitol Police recommended the Senator make security enhancements to both residences including:
- Installing an electronic home security system;
- Installing an exterior closed-circuit video system to provide live monitoring, video recording, and motion and sound detection;
- Replacing outer doors with solid-core wood or metal-clad doors;
- Installing security film on all accessible windows to prevent surreptitious observation into the residence;
- Installing an automated residential lighting application for interior and motion-activated lighting to the exterior; and
- Installing a lockable mailbox.
The Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and Commission regulations permit a federal officeholder to use campaign funds for “ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with duties of the individual as a holder of Federal office” and for “any other lawful purpose” that does not constitute conversion of campaign funds to personal use.
In several previous advisory opinions, the Commission has authorized the use of campaign funds to protect against threats to federal officeholders’ physical safety, on the grounds that the need for such security expenses would not exist irrespective of the officeholders’ activities or duties. In Advisory Opinions 2022-02, 2020-06, 2011-07, 2011-05, and 2009-08, members of Congress faced specific and ongoing threats to the safety of themselves and their families. The facts in those advisory opinions suggested the threats were motivated by the requestors’ election campaign, duties as a federal officeholder, or both. The Commission concluded that the expenses for the proposed security upgrades would not have existed irrespective of the requestors’ duties as federal officeholders or election campaigns and, therefore, the use of campaign funds for the security upgrades was permissible under the Act and Commission regulations.
In Advisory Opinion 2017-07, the Commission considered information from the House Sergeant at Arms about the threats faced by Members of Congress collectively due to their status as federal officeholders, and the recommendation of the Capitol Police that Members of Congress install or upgrade residential security systems. The Commission concluded that certain costs of installing or upgrading home security systems would constitute ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with Members’ duties as federal officeholders. Although security film has not yet been directly addressed by the Commission, it is a removable security measure designed to mitigate potential threats arising from the Senator’s duties as a federal officeholder, and therefore falls within the category of “non-structural security devices” for which the use of campaign funds was authorized in that opinion.
Accordingly, the Committee may use campaign funds to pay the costs for the requested security installations and upgrades to protect the Senator and his family in their Idaho and Washington, D.C. homes as ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with the Senator’s duties as a federal officeholder.
Date Issued: January 12, 2023; Length: 6 pages
52 U.S.C. 30114(a)
Permitted uses of campaign funds
11 CFR § 113.2
Permissible non-campaign use of funds