Politics today: The man, the convertible, and his Speedo

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Daniel Bice has had some fun today calling attention to Democrat Brett Hulsey’s campaign expenditures and triathlon apparel. (That second link is offered with the warning issued in the title of this post. And no, he’s not driving a convertible. But as I explained earlier today on Twitter, Hulsey’s wearing it much better than I would.)

I chided Bice for being lazy. You see, the news here isn’t that Hulsey bought a cheap convertible and it appears Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board thinks that’s just fine. The real news if you flip through all of those expense reports over a dozen years or so is that all politicians use that campaign money in the most interesting ways, and the GAB always thinks that’s just fine.

I remember writing the board years ago to ask if it was legitimate for a local politician to spend an enormous amount of money on gala tickets and I think I recall, a tux. The Republican I was asking about was given a green light by the GAB head as it was all being done to “get his name out there.” (I’m almost sure that’s a direct quote from the email I received, but I could be off by a word or two.)

Recently I saw a politician pay his car’s insurance with his campaign account. Again the thinking was explained as allowable because the car was used to get to campaign events.

Dang. Not a bad job if you can get it, huh? Make a salary, draw a pension, and use your campaign contributions for your living expenses.

Bice had an opportunity to draw attention to the GAB’s bias for generous campaign spending interpretations and also to rip the campaign finance law that’s proposing a double of campaign contribution limits in our state. He didn’t. He could have shown you that politicians on both sides of the political aisle like this new idea for Wisconsin. But no. Instead we have a photo of a guy in a skimpy bathing suit. I guess tabloid reporting is more fun.

Do you think campaign finance accounts should be used to fun personal lifestyles of the elected and ridiculous? If you have an opinion you should probably let someone besides me know. It is happening in Wisconsin, and it’s about to become more generous than ever before.