Congresswoman under fire for campaign-funded trip to Grammys

Sunday, November 23, 2003

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas City Congresswoman Karen McCarthy insists that a campaign-financed trip to the Grammy Awards in February was legal, but former staff members are just as adamant that the trip was a personal excursion and not allowed under campaign funding rules.

The five-term Democrat said her work with music-industry issues and the fact that many of her constituents are recording artists made the trip to the Grammys legitimate.

"I am perfectly within the law," she said.

The Associated Press reported Thursday, based on interviews with former aides and documents that the AP had obtained, that McCarthy might have misused government workers for her own benefit and appeared to have improperly paid for personal trips with campaign money.

McCarthy's Washington attorney, Stanley Brand, said the trip was an allowable expense under campaign-finance law. That stand appeared to contradict rules promulgated by the House ethics committee in a booklet issued to lawmakers.

Those rules state that lawmakers "may not use campaign funds or resources for official House purposes."

"The music and recording industry has a host of issues that come before Congress," Brand said. "It doesn't matter what she did. The use of campaign money for going up there is a legitimate, bona fide campaign expense."

McCarthy said she charged the trip to her campaign account because "recording artists also have been very helpful to me in my election efforts, supporting me locally and nationally."

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