Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman has taken $20,000 since 2008 from disgraced Illinois U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, a flashy figure who rose fast on the national politics stage only to resign in disgrace last month as a scandal unfolded around the free spending approach he adopted toward taxpayer money.
Schock was known less as a serious legislator than as a prodigious fundraiser. He was elected to office when he was only 27 years old, but he charged hard toward the money from the moment he landed in D.C., wooing big donors and doling out cash to his colleagues through his Generation-Y campaign committee.
Since Schock’s resignation on March 31st, recipients of his political donations have sought to put distance between themselves and Schock by donating or returning the Generation Y contributions.
Rep. David Jolly, a Florida Republican, announced the day after Schock resigned that he was donating $5,000 he received from the Generation-Y fund.
Email messages and calls to Coffman’s offices seeking comment over the last few days have not been returned but, so far at least, Coffman has been mum on the Schock donations, even though he was a favorite beneficiary of Schock’s generosity.
According to records posted by the Federal Election Commission, Coffman received $5,000 in 2008, another $5,000 in 2011, and $10,000 in the 2013 and 2014 midterm election cycle.
The first donation in that last election cycle came on February 19 in 2013. The FEC lists it as $1,000 to help retire campaign debt.
It’s unclear whether Coffman solicited donations directly from Schock, such as the $1,000 donation to retire debt, or whether Coffman was simply on the radar for Generation Y because Coffman was running in one of the nation’s top swing districts.
Questions posed to Coffman and other recipients of Schock cash aren’t likely to go away any time soon.
Grand jury testimony in the case against Schock began Tuesday. Journalists covering the hearings have been capturing the absurd quality of the irregularities in the congressman’s reimbursement schedules. Schock’s political director Karen McDonald Haney received a payment of $4,755 for not quite two months’ worth of car travel. As Chris Kaergard writing for the Peoria Journal Star put it: “At the standard IRS mileage rate of 56.5 cents per mile in 2014, Haney’s December payment equates to 8,491.78 miles traveled — or one-third of the circumference of the Earth.”
Similar tainted campaign money stories are now also playing out for Democrats.
Hillary Clinton has come under scrutiny for a donation her presidential campaign received in 2008 from Salomon Melgen, the benefactor at the heart of the federal indictment for corruption now dogging high-profile Democratic New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez.
Menendez’s New Millennium PAC supported candidates across the country for years.
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet recently announced he was donating $10,000 he received in 2010 from New Millennium to veterans organizations.
Coffman has been the subject of speculation that he would run next year for Bennet’s Senate seat. Coffman has won election to several statewide offices over the years and has easily held his swing-state district since it was redrawn in 2011.
National Republican groups are already targeting Bennet as perhaps the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent next year.