The next big decision for Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Harding) is what to do with more than a million dollars in campaign funds he won’t need now that he’s retiring.
Frelinghuysen can return the cash, although he’s under no legal obligation to do that. He can use the funds to pay his future political expenses. He can become a philanthropist and use the political fund to make charitable contributions. Federal law allows him a wide range of options – nearly anything but keep it personally. Congressman haven’t been able to write themselves a check since the end of 1992.
The House Republican leadership will want Frelinghuysen – or any retiring House member, for that matter – to recycle his campaign warchest back into the system. Their hope is that he’ll give over large chunks to the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), who in turn will use the funds to help keep Frelinghuysen’s seat in GOP hands. The party also wants him to make direct contributions to other Republican House candidates.
It’s not uncommon for a Member of Congress to accumulate large amounts of money over the years, especially when longtime incumbents push for increasingly safer districts. Frelinghuysen’s case is slightly different: as the Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, he is one of the most powerful people in Capitol Hill. And he’s been raising dough like many incumbents facing tough re-elections do.
Frelinghuysen hasn’t said what he’ll do with his warchest – and he probably won’t.