Pataki spent PAC money after opting not to run

March 2, 2008 2:45:59 PM PST
According to records, Pataki spent 1.4 million dollars on Broadway tickets, events at the Yale club and making payments to his advisers and supporters after ending his presidential exploratory bid. The New York Times reports that at least some of that money went to Broadway theater tickets, dinners with fellow former governors and payments to political loyalists and advisers.

Pataki organized the PACs in Virginia while he was still considering running for president. The state offers candidates broad discretion in how they can spend PAC funds.

Altogether, the committees spent about $2.1 million in 2007.

About $1.4 million has been paid out since Pataki dropped his presidential bid last March, according to the paper's review of campaign finance disclosure reports and other records.

Tom McGinley, an employee of Patakis who said his duties included planning political trips for the governor, worked part time for him in 2007. During that time his duties changed, and he earned $9,600 by arranging private social events.

"Some were like birthdays, social gatherings," he said. "There were so many of them, I can't remember what they were."

Since dropping his presidential plans, Pataki's PACs have paid nearly $165,000 for travel and meeting expenses, according to records. More than $350,000 in PAC money was paid to former Pataki administration staff, advisers and two new employees of his consulting firm.

"It looks like these committees primarily reward loyalists who have stood by him for years," said Bill Mahoney, an analyst at the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Virginia has no limits on contributions. It is illegal to use PAC money for personal use, but the state doesn't have strong regulations on spending.

Pataki spokesman David Catalfamo said the expenses were appropriate because the former governor planned to remain active in politics. He said the former governor's tenure as a public delegate to the United Nations was almost up.

The campaign was in full compliance with disclosure requirements under Virginia law, Catalfamo said.