Since 2005, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), who is currently locked in a tough run-off election battle against Democrat Jim Martin, has been in charge of the Republican Majority Fund. The PAC, established in the 1970s, was set up to help fund GOP candidates. However, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports today, Chambliss has instead used it as a personal fund to ingratiate himself to lobbyists, reward his political contributors, and fund his golfing habit:
Under Chambliss, however, 68 percent of the Majority Fund’s spending – about $1 million – has gone for travel, golf events, meals and administrative costs, reports to the Federal Election Commission show. Political contributions comprised just 32 percent of the committee’s spending, or $472,500.
In 2007 and 2008, the Majority Fund’s political donations accounted for 26 percent of its spending, the second-lowest among the 25 largest leadership groups. [...]
[O]f the top 10 recipients of the Majority Fund’s money since 2007, only one was a political organization.
Five were golf resorts.
Chambliss is an avid golfer. Despite having a “bum knee” that kept him out of military service in Vietnam, Chambliss ranked as the #2 golfer in the Senate and the 33rd best golfer in Washington, DC, according to a 2005 feature by Golf Digest. That same year, while his colleagues were in a closed-door session discussing pre-Iraq war intelligence, Chambliss took the day off to golf with Tiger Woods.
Therefore, it’s perhaps not surprising that two months after taking over the Republican Majority Fund, “Chambliss put on a golf outing at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Fla. — the first of 20 at top courses and resorts: Pebble Beach in California; The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla.; The Greenbrier in West Virginia, among others. Chambliss’ companions on these trips were, with few exceptions, registered lobbyists and their clients.” In the past two years, Chambliss has also used these official funds to golf with lobbyists for defense contractors, AIG, and Fannie Mae.