Whether you choose to run for local or state office, trying to start a career as a politician isn’t easy. People have to learn your name in order to vote for you, and that means that you need money and publicity. You will need to connect with people locally and hopefully reach bigger groups through broadcast and print advertising.
Advertising is not cheap, and neither is going out in public to meet with your potential future constituents. Politicians often spend a huge amount of their time fundraising to finance their travel and advertising. These expenses are necessary so that they can get the votes they need to make a difference in the world.
While traveling, however, political candidates and those already elected to public office could break one of the most important rules about their campaign fundraising.
Personal use of campaign funds is a significant violation
Politicians incur expenses related to travel. They need to pay themselves and their key staff members a salary. It is perfectly acceptable for a politician or political candidate to use campaign funds for travel, lodging, plane tickets and meals while conducting official business. They can also pay themselves and others who help them a reasonable salary.
However, using funds for purely personal purposes like a hotel while not campaigning, mortgage payments, tuition, entertainment or household items could lead to allegations of major campaign finance violations.
Violating the federal laws about fundraising could mean criminal charges and damage to your reputation as a politician. Knowing the rules can help you avoid committing a campaign finance mistake that could lead to federal criminal charges.