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Group questions campaign funding by representatives

5/12/2012

By GORDON JACKSON
The Brunswick News

A political watchdog group says more than half of the nation's congressmen, including U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, have spent some of their campaign funds in questionable ways.

But a spokesman for the 10-term Savannah Republican said Kingston has done nothing wrong. And the St. Simons Island Democrat who plans to run against Kingston said he won't make the report a campaign issue.

The report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said Kingston reimbursed himself $122,473 from his campaign fund for food, lodging and other expenses he paid from personal accounts or credit cards in 2008 and 2010.

The report, which named 248 House members, questioned why Kingston reimbursed himself instead of paying for expenditures directly from his campaign fund, which reportedly has $1.2 million.

Kingston's spokesman Chris Crawford didn't dispute the accuracy of the study, saying information used in the report was provided by the congressman's reelection campaign staff.

"Jack's biggest concern is to make sure he's accountable," Crawford said. "We are completely and totally transparent with our campaign fund."

Crawford said Kingston will continue to pay some campaign expenses and be reimbursed from the donation account. He has no plans to get a separate credit card for his campaign account to eliminate any confusion, Crawford said.

The report also says Kingston's mother was paid $3,232 in salary for clerical work in 2008, and she was reimbursed $183 for mileage in 2010.

"Mrs. Kingston has been an important part of our team," Crawford said.

Nathan Russo, a Democrat who plans to run against Kingston in the November elections, said he has no plans to make the report a campaign issue.

"I intend on making Jack's voting record a campaign issue," he said.

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