Congressman rolls over campaign law with expensive bus
BILLINGS, Mont. — Lobbyist-turned Congressman Dennis Rehberg today launched a statewide bus tour that appears to violate federal law.
Rehberg will be cruising aboard a “donated” Prevost Entertainer luxury with Rehberg’s name painted on it. According to a bus rental agency, renting a luxury bus like Rehberg’s costs between $2,000 and $3,400 per day. The Rehberg campaign has used the bus at parades, tailgates and multiple tours of Montana for weeks.
But federal law clearly states Rehberg is not allowed to accept in-kind donations whose value totals more than $2,500. According the FEC:
“The value of an in-kind contribution—the usual and normal charge—counts against the contribution limit as a gift of money does… For non-commercial travel via other means, such as limousines and all other automobiles, trains and buses, a political committee must pay the service provider the normal and usual fare or rental charge for a comparable commercial conveyance of sufficient size to accommodate all campaign travelers.”Federal law also requires candidates to “keep in its records an itinerary showing the departure and arrival cities and the dates of departure and arrival; a list of all passengers on such trip.”
The FEC even wrote a letter threatening “penalties” or “legal enforcement action” for Rehberg’s non-compliance with reporting requirements.
“After failing to explain his irresponsible decisions on important issues during his debate with Montana farmer Jon Tester, Congressman Dennis Rehberg is now failing to explain why he hasn’t held himself accountable to Montana,” said Alexandra Fetissoff, Montana farmer Jon Tester. “Congressman Rehberg’s bus is just another example of a long pattern of Dennis Rehberg thinking he’s above the law.”
The Rehberg campaign bus
STOP SIGN: The only disclaimer Rehberg has offered is a plaque on the bus which reads “Donated by Republican constituent.”
STOP SIGN: The campaign contribution limit from a single donor is $2,500, including in-kind donations.
STOP SIGN: The retail price of such a bus, according to Prevost dealers, runs between $750,000 and $2 million.
STOP SIGN: Owning a campaign bus requires footing the cost of the bus, fuel and insurance.