Congressional Black Caucus PAC Spends Lavishly on Hotels, Event Tickets

PAC has spent a majority of its funds on administrative purposes this cycle

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The Congressional Black Caucus PAC (CBC PAC) is spending big on luxurious hotels in multiple cities, tickets for events at sports and entertainment centers, and at wineries and Broadway shows, a review of campaign finance filings show.

The CBC PAC is the fundraising arm of the Congressional Black Caucus and carries a stated mission of increasing "the number of African Americans in the U.S. Congress" and to "support non-Black candidates that champion our interests" while working to promote African American participation in the political process.

The PAC's website says that the group will "continue to grow" and expand their voice in key campaigns throughout the country with the help of its financial backers.

Despite the group's stated intentions, the PAC is spending hundreds of thousands on administration and fundraising while putting far less money toward its stated purposes.

The CBC PAC allocated $325,700 for its administration and $234,000 for fundraising this cycle, while only $56,000 in contributions has been given to political candidates, according to overall data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

The CBC PAC spent $36,510 on tickets and catering for a "fundraising" event at the Staples Center, a sports arena in Los Angeles, Calif., in February 2017.

The PAC added a $4,000 bill for lodging at the W Hotel in Hollywood and $4,800 at Perch LA, a French-inspired restaurant that features a "glamorous rooftop setting" with unobstructed views of downtown Los Angeles, that same month.

A favorite of the CBC PAC is the Conrad New York, a five-star, all-suite hotel located in Lower Manhattan.

The group made numerous expenditures to the Conrad for lodging and facility rentals, its filings show. Between April and August of last year, the PAC cut five checks to the hotel totaling $33,400.

During this time period, $3,100 was also spent on tickets at the Marquis Theatre, a Broadway theatre in midtown-Manhattan, with $6,000 for "catering" paid to the New York Stock Exchange. Slightly more than $6,000 was marked toward "catering" at 48 Lounge, a plush award winning premium cocktail lounge and event venue in New York City.

The PAC spent thousands in Washington, D.C., on "fundraising event" tickets at the Verizon Center, now Capital One Arena, a sports and entertainment arena in D.C.'s Chinatown district.

In March, the group disbursed $22,000 to District Winery, a boutique urban winery in D.C.'s Navy Yard, for facility rental. Thousands more went to catering companies, steakhouses, and other restaurants in D.C. this election cycle.

The PAC cut a $6,000 check to the Londonhouse, a luxury hotel in Chicago, for lodging. The PAC paid $2,500 to American Coach Limousine, a limo service company that provides rides to and from the O'Hare airport, among other expenditures in the city and elsewhere.

In addition to the group's spending on the likes of tickets, hotels, and restaurants, the group has put tens of thousands of dollars toward consulting services.

Benjamin Branch, the group's executive director, has been compensated $140,000 so far this cycle.

The CBC PAC also paid $22,000 in rent this cycle to the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, a political education and leadership institute that educates voters, trains new leaders, and performs advocacy work.

This is not the first time the CBC PAC has spent in this manner.

The PAC also dropped big money on tickets, restaurants, and luxury resorts, including resorts in the Virgin Islands, during the 2016 election cycle. An overwhelming majority of its funds that cycle also went towards administrative and fundraising expenses.

The CBC PAC did not return a request for comment on its expenditures by press time.