According to Axios, campaign finance records for the last year show Collins has been using campaign dollars for legal bills while he’s been under investigation.
Records dating back to July 2017 from the Federal Election Commission show Collins used campaign funds to pay legal bills while he was under investigation for alleged insider trading, of which he was arrested for Wednesday, CNBC reports.
Thus far the campaign has paid up to $60,000 a month in legal services to Baker Hostetler.
It is currently legal to use campaign funds for legal fees under some circumstances. The practice was questioned amid sexual harassment scandals that have become public. In those cases, tax dollars were used for legal settlements.
“The Ethics Committee has determined that it is generally permissible under House Rules for a Member to use campaign funds to defend legal actions arising out of his or her campaign, election, or the performance of official duties,” the rules outline. “However, campaign funds may not be used when the action is primarily personal in nature, such as a matrimonial action, or could result in a direct personal benefit for the Member.”
The rules say that a member must consult with the Ethics Committee before using the campaign dollars for legal fees.
The insider trading issue is not related to his official position in Congress or his campaign, posing the question of whether or not it is legal. Raw Story contacted the lead counsel for the Ethics Committee for confirmation that Collins had the funds approved. They refused to comment on whether Collins asked for approval and if he did ask when.
Raw Story reached out to the office of Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL), the ranking member on the committee for comment, but has not yet heard back.
Wednesday, Collins denied the allegations, though he said he doesn’t intend to address the charges specifically other than to say they are false.