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Besides giving to other politicians, candidates also gave about $170,000 to charities — perhaps building good will with the charities’ supporters. Groups that received such money range from Scouting groups to junior livestock shows, schools, churches, homeless shelters, hometown celebrations, clubs, hospitals, fairs and youth sports leagues.
Politicians also gave away nearly $27,000 in gifts. Some are listed as gifts for weddings or Christmas for supporters or colleagues. Some are freebies for constituents who may visit, and some are gifts for visiting dignitaries.
Officials also spent more than $160,000 in out-of-state travel, mostly to conventions of legislative groups. But some took trips to such faraway places as China, Estonia, Israel and Germany.
Officials also spent nearly $12,000 to pay dues to groups they joined, ranging from the National Rifle Association to the Patrick Henry Caucus, chambers of commerce and the Farm Bureau.
After hearing examples of such spending, Cosgrove said he may take another look at the 2-year-old law and see if he can find ways to tighten it.
Burningham’s group, meanwhile, is suing the state over whether its ethics initiative qualified to appear on the ballot this year. It would do such things as ban candidates from passing on donations to other politicians and parties, ban corporate donations and limit contributions by others to no more than $2,500.
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