On Saturday, The Washington Post Fact-Checker analyzed a payment made by a political action committee run by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to Frank Luntz, a longtime Republican pollster who has been highly critical of former President Donald Trump — and found that his public explanation for the payment to be suspect.
"Frank has been a friend of mine for more than 30 years," said McCarthy in an interview on "Fox & Friends" two weeks ago. "I've rented a room from Frank for a couple of months, but don't worry, I'm back to — going back to where I normally am, on my couch in my office. But, yeah, we pay fair market rate."
As fact-checker Glenn Kessler noted, that isn't the whole story.
"At the time of his remarks earlier this month, McCarthy's emphasis on a friendship seemed logical. There appeared to be no business relationship between the two men, except for a poll conducted by Luntz in 2000 for yrock.com, which McCarthy started when he was national chairman of the Young Republicans," wrote Kessler. "But Federal Election Commission filings show that the leadership PAC controlled by McCarthy — Majority Committee PAC, or McPAC — paid one of Luntz's companies, FIL Inc., nearly $40,000 in late 2020, just before McCarthy began renting what he described as a 'room' in the recently renovated apartment."
McCarthy claims these payments were for polling. However, the timing between the payments lines up much more with the office space — and well above the market rate for units in the building, which typically go for $1,675 and $2,300 a month -- according to Zillow -- and have bylaws prohibiting leases of partial space or for shorter than six months.
"Luntz appears to have taken possession of his renovated condo as early as Sept. 21, when a resident posted in a Facebook group: 'I ran into our new neighbor today. And shortly after, he posted the following screenshot, to his Twitter account, from the CB [Clara Barton] conference room, where he was interviewing Bob Woodward!!!'" wrote Kessler. "Four days later, FIL Inc. received its first payment from McPAC. It appears to be the only federal committee to pay one of Luntz's companies in the 2020 cycle. (Luntz also received a $1,400 travel reimbursement from the Congressional Black Caucus.)" FIL Inc. also got a $77,900 loan from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the COVID-19 small business loan program.
You can read more here.