Lawmakers could soon use campaign contributions to for security, according to a draft advisory opinion released by the Federal Elections Commission.
The proposal would grant a blanket allowance for members of congress to use campaign funds to install or upgrade residential security systems, as long as the primary purpose is not to increase the value of the members’ homes.
“The Commission concluded that the use of campaign funds to pay for the security upgrades recommended by the Capitol Police and not primarily intended to increase the value of the members’ homes would not constitute a prohibited use of campaign contributions,” says the FEC opinion.
Currently, there are strict guidelines on using campaign funds to pay for security at residences and permission from the FEC was needed on a case by case, threat specific basis. The FEC has previously granted requests to use campaign money for security upgrades in specific circumstances. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was allowed to upgrade security at her home after she was was shot and severely wounded at a 2011 event for constituents in Arizona.
House Sergeant at Arms Paul D. Irving requested the guidance following the shooting of Majority Whip Steve Scalise at a congressional baseball practice in June. Irving outlined a “new daily threat environment” facing lawmakers, citing that United States Capitol Police investigated 902 threatening communications received by lawmakers in 2016 and 950 threats investigated in just the first six months of 2017.
The Capitol Police and Sergeant-at-Arms also hope to step up security measures both at the Capitol complex and in lawmakers’ districts. Both would see a boost in funding under the fiscal 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill that cleared full committee in late June.
“The scariest part for us is, there used to be this impression by the public that we all had security everywhere we went. Now everyone knows that isn’t the case,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, the top Democrat on the Legislative Branch panel.