The campaign of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee disbursed nearly $10,000 of its funds for Super Bowl LI tickets, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
This year's Super Bowl between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, which took place on Feb. 5, was held at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Jackson Lee represents Texas's 18th Congressional District, which includes most of the central Houston area.
The congresswoman's campaign committee is shown to have made two separate transactions pertaining to Super Bowl tickets days before and after the event.
On Feb. 3, just two days before the Super Bowl, Jackson Lee's campaign committee paid $4,900 to 21st Century Fox, Government Relations for ‘Super Bowl LI Tickets,' according to the filings.
On Feb. 8, three days after the Super Bowl, Gerald Womack, the congresswoman's campaign manager, was reimbursed $4,900 for Super Bowl tickets, filings show.
Jackson Lee's campaign also spent thousands at a Houston restaurant on the day of the Super Bowl.
A $4,901.46 ‘fundraising expense' was made on Feb. 5 at Grotto Restaurant, an Italian restaurant located in Houston.
Additionally, J. Pope Consulting, a Silver Spring, Md.-based consulting firm, was given $250 for ‘super bowl invitation design' weeks after the game.
Jackson Lee was shown to be in Houston one week before the Super Bowl at a kickoff event.
Ellis Wyms, a former player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, tweeted a photo on Jan. 28 with the congresswoman.
"Hanging out with congress woman Sheila Jackson Lee at the Super Bowl Kickoff. What an amazing woman," Wyms said in the tweet. Jackson Lee can be seen wearing a "VIP Preview" badge in the photo.
A photo posted to Jackson Lee's Instagram account put her "on location" for the Super Bowl at NRG Stadium.
"We are #OnLocationatSB51," her caption reads.
Matthew Whitaker, president of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a Washington, D.C.-based government accountability group, said the public deserves an explanation on why the tickets were a campaign expense.
"We are always concerned and want more information when we see campaign expenditures that are not directly for campaign purposes. Campaign funds should not be used for any thing other than running a campaign," Whitaker told the Washington Free Beacon. "There have been many cases of public officials abusing their campaign funds for personal expenses and for the benefit of others. The public deserves an explanation on why Super Bowl tickets were a campaign expense."
The Free Beacon attempted to reach Jackson Lee's field office on numerous occasions but was unsuccessful. An inquiry sent to the contact on the campaign's website was not returned.
Jackson Lee's congressional office also did not return a request for comment on the tickets by press time.
Rae-Lynn Ziegler contributed to this report.