GOP U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher has several options for the more than $4 million he had in the bank to end 2023 after his surprise announcement that he won’t seek reelection this fall.

But first he’ll have to refund any donations given to his campaign with the intent of supporting his general election effort, unless donors redesignate what the money is for, according to the Federal Election Commission. 

FEC rules require the Allouez Republican to return any general election contributions to his campaign within 60 days of the date he announced he would no longer be seeking reelection. According to his campaign finance reports, there were 128 contributions intended for general election support in the 2024 cycle worth a total of $435,226. 

Gallagher is allowed to use his warchest to cover moving expenses, pay campaign staff and buy gifts for anyone other than family members, among other things. He could also donate the money to charitable organizations and make political contributions.

Gallagher’s campaign declined to comment on what it plans to do with the funds. 

Federal law bars the use of campaign funds for personal use, which the FEC in an explainer video describes as “any use of campaign funds to pay for an expense that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign or responsibilities as a federal officeholder.”

FEC’s examples of personal use expenses include:

  • Household food items and supplies
  • Clothing
  • Tuition
  • Mortgage, rent and utilities for personal residence
  • Entertainment expenses
  • Dues and fees for things such as country clubs and gyms
  • Salary payments to a candidate’s family, unless for campaign services paid at fair market value

FEC also requires campaign committees to resolve all outstanding debt before terminating the committee, though Gallagher’s most recent report shows none. 

He also could hold onto the money. While most former Wisconsin House members have terminated their campaign accounts, former U.S. Reps. Sean Duffy and Ron Kind still have theirs.

Duffy, who represented northern Wisconsin’s 7th CD and now lives in New Jersey, reported just shy of $2 million in his campaign account to end 2023. Duffy, who resigned in September 2019, reported $190,152 in investment income during the fourth quarter.

Kind, who didn’t seek reelection in 2022, had $679,803 in his account to end last year after receiving $8,321 from a credit union during the fourth quarter.

Duffy’s warchest is one reason he’s sometimes mentioned as a possible candidate for statewide office in Wisconsin, though under state rules, candidates can’t simply convert their full federal account to a state one.

See Duffy’s report.

See Kind’s report.

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