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GOP Candidate Used Campaign Funds To Go A-Rioting

Wisconsin Republican candidate Derrick Van Orden used campaign funds to participate in the Jan 6th MAGA Sedition Riot.
GOP Candidate Used Campaign Funds To Go A-Rioting
Image from: Screengrab

Derrick Van Orden, is the particularly abrasive, perpetual Republican candidate running against US Rep. Ron Kind, in Western Wisconsin. Van Orden is a full-fledged MAGAt, who has been touting the Stop the Steal nonsense since losing in 2020. Van Orden has announced that he is running again in 2022.

However, The Daily Beast is reporting that this might be more difficult for Van Orden because he is in a world of legal hurt:

Two months after Republican congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden lost his 2020 race, he joined “stop the steal” rioters on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol—and he paid for the trip with donor money left over from his failed campaign.

Now Van Orden is running again, and has already scored major endorsements from senior GOP House leadership, including Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

A week after his illegally funded trip to the riot, Van Orden penned an op-ed that appeared in the La Crosse Tribune, in which he admitted going to Washington, D.C. but lied about the reason for the trip as well as what he saw of the riot:

I recently traveled to Washington, DC for meetings and to stand for the integrity of our electoral system as a citizen and at the behest of my neighbors here in Western Wisconsin.

On the now notorious January 6, I decided to walk down the mall to the Capitol and wait for the people to march there. The crowd was peaceful, many families with small children, elderly people, and others from all walks of life were mingling. The mood was festive.

When we arrived at the Capitol, several hundreds of people were on the grounds waving flags. There were multiple families with small children walking on the lawn.

Van Orden went on to write that as soon as the mob became rioters, he left the area and did not enter the Capitol grounds. Unfortunately for him, one of his fellow Wisconsin rioters posted a photo on Facebook that proves him to be a liar:

The Daily Beast reported that this photo was taken inside of the restricted grounds of the Capitol.

Then there is the issue of how he paid for the trip to go a-rioting:

As for Van Orden’s campaign expenses surrounding Jan. 6, it’s unclear how they relate to Van Orden’s attendance. Federal Election Commission regulations state that travel expenses must be “directly related to the campaign.” Van Orden—who wrote off roughly $4,000 in transportation and D.C. hotel costs around Jan. 6 for him, his wife, and a campaign staffer—lost his race in November and didn’t declare his 2022 candidacy until April.

Jordan Libowitz, communications director for campaign finance watchdog Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, questioned the legitimacy of the expenses.

“Campaign accounts are not personal slush funds. They must be used for campaign-related activities. Attempting to overthrow an election you just lost is not a proper campaign activity,” Libowitz told The Daily Beast. “If he did use his campaign to pay for travel for him and his staff to attend the rally-turned-insurrection, it would raise serious questions about his compliance with campaign finance laws.”

Van Orden has already received some endorsements from people like Reps Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise and two of Wisconsin's MAGAt Republicans - Tom Tiffany and Scott Fitzgerald. I would hope that these folks come to their senses soon and withdraw those endorsements. It seems to me that they already have enough troubles without Van Orden hanging around their necks.

Oh, and Mr. Van Orden, the FBI is at the door and the FEC is on line one.

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