The Feds are letting GOP candidate Derrick Van Orden pay Jan. 6 expenses with campaign money

Candidates can get away with campaign donations to travel to a riot, as long as they’re frugal, according to a new decision by the federal election commission.

That’s the result for Derrick Van Orden, the Republican congressional candidate from Wisconsin, who used fundraising to fund a trip to DC, where he was, The Daily Beast reported last year, during the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol grounds occurred.

On Friday, the commissioners released their unanimous July 26 decision to dismiss allegations that Van Orden’s January 6 travel expenses constituted an unlawful private use of campaign money — although they did not technically Usually it was also legal.

Instead, the commissioners did not even address the merits of the case, arguing that the amount of money at stake was too small to pursue further enforcement action. The agency’s General Counsel made the same recommendation in his report, writing that even if the expenses were personal in nature, the amount in question — a few hundred dollars — was so small that it “does not merit the expenditure of further Commission resources, to pursue him.”

As is often the case with politically charged decisions, the Democratic and Republican commissioners released competing statements. In this case, these statements had one key difference: the Democrats condemned the spending; the Republicans were silent.

Democratic Commissioners Ellen Weintraub and Shana Broussard were blunt, writing that the decision “should not be construed” as legitimizing the use of campaign funds to disrupt the Democratic process.

“While we hope that the events of January 6th will never happen again – and it really shouldn’t need to be said – we want to make it clear that when funding activities aimed at using violence to destroy the results of a legitimate election, we want to make it clear tilt, not the case is a permissible use of campaign funds,” says their statement.

Her Republican counterparts also cited the small amount of money, but did not take the additional step of condemning the act in principle.

FEC regulations state that travel expenses must be “directly related to the campaign”. Van Orden wrote off approximately $4,000 in transportation and lodging expenses for him, his wife and an associate. He had just lost his 2020 race and had yet to declare his 2022 candidacy.

The Van Orden campaign argued the trip was related to pre-scheduled “political meetings” and that the expense was justified as the Jan. 6 rally was “inherently political, much like any other [p]artistic event or fundraiser for a committee.”

“There is so much wrong with that statement,” the Democratic commissioners wrote.

“Activities to disrupt the certification of a presidential election are in no way comparable to a party event or fundraiser,” their statement said. “The actions of those who breached the Capitol, assaulted the Capitol Police and committed various forms of violence, trespassing and assault were illegal. And as the law makes clear, a donation must only be used for a lawful purpose.”

Asked for comment, Van Orden called the complaint “government armory” and urged his Democratic opponent, Wisconsin State Senator Brad Pfaff, to retract his claims about the allegations.

“The Wisconsin Democratic Party filed a complaint that was summarily dismissed because of its apparent political motivation,” Van Orden said, incorrectly. (The complaint was dismissed because of the amount of money involved; the Democratic commissioners also voted to dismiss.)

“The Democrats did this to deflect attention from their record of ruining the country over the past two years of unchecked power,” he continued. “This is the kind of government arming that every American should be wary of, and every time my opponent repeats this proven false claim, he’s lying to you straight out.”

Van Orden also said he expects “a complete disengagement” from The Daily Beast, the Wisconsin Democratic Party and Pfaff.

Last June, The Daily Beast reported that Van Orden not only attended the rally, but was in a restricted area on the Capitol grounds, according to social media posts from the time. The Feds are letting GOP candidate Derrick Van Orden pay Jan. 6 expenses with campaign money


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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