Oregon Legislators Use Campaign Money so They Can Pocket State Expense Money

The use of campaign funds to cover the personal expenses of serving in a legislative session is legal, according to election officials. But it has been controversial for several years, with many legislators avoiding the practice.
July 23, 2013

During the recent legislative session, Oregon lawmakers received $123 a day from the taxpayers to cover the expenses of meeting in Salem.

But several legislators instead paid for many of their expenses out of their campaign fund, allowing them to pocket the per diem, which is tax-free if they live more than 50 miles from the Capitol.

For example, Rep. Debbie Boone of Cannon Beach used campaign money to pick up the tab for nearly $200 in dry cleaning bills. Sen. Herman Baertschiger of Grants Pass spent $3,740 in campaign money for hotel bills. And Sen. Alan Olsen dipped into his campaign fund to collect over $5,400 in mileage for the daily 70-mile round trip commute between his Canby home and the Capitol.

The use of campaign funds to cover the personal expenses of serving in a legislative session is legal, according to election officials. But it has been controversial for several years, with many legislators avoiding the practice.

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