Retiring senators sitting on $10.5 million

Montana Democrat Max Baucus has most leftover campaign cash

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Eight retiring U.S. senators are collectively sitting on $10.5 million in campaign funds, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of campaign finance records filed last week.

And while federal law prohibits lawmakers from using campaign funds for personal use, they have a variety of options for leftover campaign cash.

The man with the most money still in the bank is Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., who the Washington Post today reported will retire at the end of his sixth term in January 2015. The chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee still has nearly $5 million in his campaign account.

At the other end of the financial spectrum are Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who each had less than $200,000 in cash on hand through March, records indicate.

To date, six Democrats and two Republicans have announced plans to retire at the end of the 113th Congress.

With the exception of Baucus, most posted tepid fundraising numbers during the first quarter of 2013. Baucus raised nearly $1.6 million during the first three months of the year, records indicate.

The senators may give their surplus money away to other candidates, subject to the normal contribution limits, or transferred to a state or national party committee, which have no limits.

Politicans may also donate money to charity — including their own charities — as former Republican Reps. Ron Paul and Allen West have recently done.

Additionally, they may also use funds for "winding down" costs or other official campaign- or office-related expenses. Or the money may just be kept in the bank for future use, so long as the committee continues to file regular reports with the government.

Representatives for the retiring senators were largely mum about the lawmakers' designs for leftover funds.

Nick Simpson, a spokesman for Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., said the senator's campaign account "will be used to pay for any non-official expenses" during his remaining 20 months in office.

Bronwyn Lance Chester, a spokeswoman for Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., told the Center for Public Integrity that Chambliss "hasn't decided yet."

That sentiment was echoed by Levin spokeswoman Tara Andringa.

"Sen. Levin hasn’t decided what to do with any campaign funds that might be left when he finishes this term," Andringa said. "You can look at his 4/15 FEC report to see the recent choices he has made."

During the year's first three months, Levin reported about $14,200 in operating expenditures, including $3,000 for "website consulting" fees and about $580 to the Internal Revenue Service for federal income taxes.

Levin also reported refunding a $10,000 contribution to the political action committee of the International Union of Operating Engineers and doling out $20,000 to fellow Democratic senators who will be facing re-election in 2014, including Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Kay Hagan, D-N.C.; Mary Landrieu, D-La.; and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.