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Texas Republican Spent $30,000 In Campaign Dollars On Chocolates And Ham

Texas Republican Ralph Hall, currently in the middle of a runoff primary fight, certainly has some interesting spending priorities:

WASHINGTON — Texas Rep. Ralph Hall, the oldest serving member of Congress, spent more than $33,000 in campaign funds on orders from Honey Baked Foods and Godiva Chocolatier, campaign filings show.

Federal Election Commission records show Hall’s campaign spent a total of more than $14,000 at the Honey Baked Foods company around the holidays in 2012 and 2013. The campaign spent an additional $19,000 at Godiva in December 2013.

“These are gifts that the congressman has been giving out for years to constituents,” said Ed Valentine, one of Hall’s campaign advisers. “They’re Christmas gifts. They’re birthday gifts. That’s how Ralph works. He likes Christmas.”

Campaigns routinely spend thousands of dollars on holiday gifts — frequently congressional Christmas ornaments, for instance, or holiday cards — to send to supporters.

Perhaps most amusing is the fact that Hall sent his primary opponent a 7 pound ham when he entered the race, which prompted this response from the campaign:

“After six votes to increase the debt ceiling, and support for bloated farm bills, cash for clunkers and billions in earmarks, this level of questionable spending from Ralph Hall is unfortunately not surprising,” Ratcliffe spokesperson Daniel Kroese said. Ratcliffe is wealthy and is largely self-funding his congressional bid.

I guess he can afford his own ham then,

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    I’m actually okay with this, particularly if he’s sharing. Specifically, with me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  2. al-Ameda says:

    “These are gifts that the congressman has been giving out for years to constituents,” said Ed Valentine, one of Hall’s campaign advisers. “They’re Christmas gifts. They’re birthday gifts. That’s how Ralph works. He likes Christmas.”

    Seems par for the course to me. People voluntarily choose (or choose not) to contribute to Hall’s campaign for any number of reasons.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. Tillman says:

    So? My dad once relayed a story to me when he was around 16 (so back in the early ’60s or so), he was hired by a local campaign in Sanford, NC to drive people to the polls, and give them a sixpack of beer when they got out. This was all paid for by one specific candidate who, by sheer coincidence, always seemed to win the election.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    And Harry Reid bought $31,000 in jewelry from his granddaughter for “gifts” out of his campaign funds. So the bar for getting upset over this sort of thing is a bit higher, right? Or is the standard for a nobody from Texas higher than for the Senate Majority Leader?

    My bad. The nobody’s a Republican, while the other guy’s a Democrat.

    On the other hand, I’m guessing this guy from Texas wasn’t trying to win over any Jewish or Muslim voters…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  5. rudderpedals says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Welcome back

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. michael reynolds says:

    And no money spent on bourbon? This guy calls himself a Texan?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  7. Rafer Janders says:

    Eh, I’m OK with it. Think of all the harm he could have done with this money. Now think of all the delicious goodness that $30K worth of chocolate and ham represents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. Rafer Janders says:

    @rudderpedals:

    I see that Doug has resurrected his “Jenos Idanian” sock-puppet after letting it lay on the floor for some time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  9. mike shupp says:

    He sent a ham to a primary opponent? That strikes me as gracious rather than obnoxious. Would that more of our politicians behave with such civility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  10. Peacewood says:

    This falls under the “you’re damn right I would if I could” rubric.

    And to paraphrase John McCain, if I were in his position, make it 100K.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @rudderpedals: @Jenos Idanian #13: Welcome back

    Thank you, but it’s only a limited engagement. I finally accepted that OTB has gone the way of Little Green Footballs, and now focuses on advancing the progressive agenda. My pet theory is that Dr. Joyner is doing it out of pique because the populist element of the GOP is marginalizing the old-school establishment GOP he embraces, and Mr. Mataconis is a Moby who only brings up his alleged libertarianism when he can use it to bash the teeming masses who actually think they have a right to have a say in matters that should be left to their superiors.

    I may occasionally peek in and see what’s going on, and even less frequently comment, though. My days of regularly commenting are finished.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  12. rudderpedals says:

    @Rafer Janders:
    OK, but I don’t see it. May things are possible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    My pet theory is that Dr. Joyner is doing it out of pique because the populist element of the GOP is marginalizing the old-school establishment GOP he embraces

    While James is more than capable of speaking for himself, I take offense to the notion of “pique.” James has publicly written here on multiple occasions about the gradual realignment of his political and cultural views. It isn’t “pique” that is driving him. He isn’t being childish or changing this out of “spite” or “sour grapes.”

    You do get to the heart of the issue — that the populist element has taken a lot of steps to marginalize the more pragmatic/Rockefeller elements of the GOP. Not to mention the fact that the populist elements tend to have retrograde views on multiple social issues. The problem, as he has written about on multiple occaisions, and statewide and national elections seem to be bearing out, is that those populist elements are (a) marginalizing the GOP when you get above the local/district level, and (b) leading to an inability to govern effectively (seriously, please point me to anything that the populists have actually positively accomplished).

    Like I said, James has written pretty extensively here pointing that out. I suspect he isn’t doing it because he’s pissed that the establishment is being hurt. He’s doing it because he’s concerned both about the direction of the GOP and the broader implications for the rest of the country. James, and I would say most of the authors here, actually care quite deeply about the direction of the country. And we all see the need for a thoughtful conservative movement. The problem is that there is little evidence that there is much thought going on for the populists.

    Unfortunately, for some this reads as “he isn’t in control so he doesn’t want to be part of the the “rah-rah conservatives no matter what team” that other sites belong to. I would humbly suggest that that says far more about your personal hang-ups and biases than anything about Dr. Joyner.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  14. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Matt Bernius: You do get to the heart of the issue — that the populist element has taken a lot of steps to marginalize the more pragmatic/Rockefeller elements of the GOP. Not to mention the fact that the populist elements tend to have retrograde views on multiple social issues. The problem, as he has written about on multiple occaisions, and statewide and national elections seem to be bearing out, is that those populist elements are (a) marginalizing the GOP when you get above the local/district level, and (b) leading to an inability to govern effectively (seriously, please point me to anything that the populists have actually positively accomplished).

    OK, I was a bit flippant about it, but — stripped of the rhetoric — we are basically saying the same thing. (The flippant part is largely prompted by two factors: 1), the tone of discourse from most of those who engage me is pretty rank, and 2) I’ve shed a lot of illusions and pretense as I’ve gotten older.) From my perspective, the “establishment” types have, by and large, forfeited any claims they might have had to leadership of the GOP. They have no real accomplishments of their own in recent times to boast of, and their standard bearers — George H. W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney — were all failures to large degrees. I have reached the point where I am willing to throw in with the populists, by and large, because I see them as having more of a chance of succeeding at anything than the elites.

    That doesn’t mean I agree with their entire agenda. I’ll fight with them on the issues where I disagree with them — gay marriage being one, off the top of my head. But I think I’ll have better luck there fighting from the inside, alongside the winners, than drowning my tears with the losers who happen to agree with me.

    I probably agree with Dr. Joyner on more issues than I disagree with him. But the real world is speaking loudly — his chosen faction is losing. And it seems the only strategy they see is to crush the other faction that is winning. Which has the net effect of seeing both factions lose, and the other side (the leftists) triumph.

    Dr. Joyner, by his actions, seems to believe that we’re better off if the leftists win instead of the populists on the right. (He invests far more energy on trying to tear down the conservative populists than he does going after the leftists.) I disagree;

    In brief, his preferences seem to go: 1) Establishment GOP. 2) Leftists. 3) Populist GOP.

    Mine are: 1) Populist GOP. 2) Establishment GOP. 3) Leftists.

    But again, on policy, I tend to side more with Establishment GOP. It’s just that, in my pragmatic view, I think those policies have a better chance of advancing through my preferences — because the Establishment GOP simply can’t get it done.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    Thanks for taking the time to respond in a thoughtful manner.

    Ultimately, I think that you sum everything nicely up in the following two ilnes:

    In brief, [James'] preferences seem to go: 1) Establishment GOP. 2) Leftists. 3) Populist GOP.

    Mine are: 1) Populist GOP. 2) Establishment GOP. 3) Leftists.

    These two lines — which I truly believe are heartfelt nicely lay out *why* you are totally right in saying that OTB — both in terms of its authors and commentators — isn’t a welcoming place for you. Beyond firmly establishing that your preference is with the current configuration of populists, the fact that the best you can come up with for the opposite end of the spectrum is “leftists” (which is in this usage both a derogatory phase and misses how middle of the road much of the current “left” is) pretty much sums up why you’re not going to agree with much of anything here.

    The primary blog authors (James, Doug, and Steven) are going to be far too intellectual (though you’ll probably read that as “elitist”), pragmatic (though you’ll probably read that as “leftist”) and even handed (again, might as well be “leftist” for you, with their reliance on actual facts) for you. And many of the commentators are going be far too populistly leftist for you (you’ve met the enemy as he is you.

    Given what you’ve written, and who you’ve chosen to throw your cards with when you got older, I really think that Red State, WND, National Review, and probably Eric F’s blogs are more your speed. I wouldn’t recommend American Conservative — far too establishment/leftist for you. Though you probably will enjoy Pat B’s populist writings.

    Good luck fighting the war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Matt Bernius: I chose “leftists” because I like “classical liberals” like Jeff Goldstein, and don’t want to impugn that type. Perhaps “progressives” would be more to your liking?

    As far as other sites… I’ve grown quite fond of Ace of Spades, who can be quite intellectual when he wishes, but could never be called stuffy or pompous our elitist.

    To repeat myself, my disagreement with Dr. Joyner appears to be tactical. Well, that and priorities. Not principles. Mr. Mataconis… I’ve finally come to accept that his stated principles and actions don’t align very well, and I’ll leave it at that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  17. Matt Bernius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I chose “leftists” because I like “classical liberals” like Jeff Goldstein, and don’t want to impugn that type.

    The fact that you think Jeff Goldstein is a “classical liberal” says more about your understanding of the term (not to mention your intellectual curiosity) than I can. BTW, Jeff Goldstein really needs to revisit what Lincoln is said to have said about dogs and tails.

    Perhaps “progressives” would be more to your liking?

    No. What would have been too my liking was to extend the same courtesy that you did to the conservative/Republican side — gradations. Progressives, leftists, or whatever are not a monolithic entity. The choice isn’t between establishment and populist conservatives and everyone else.

    But, of course, that screws up your entire rubric. Because, god forbid, there might be any other opinions than “progressives.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  18. Constituents kept telling him it was his job to bring more pork back to the district and he just completely misunderstood what they wanted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  19. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Frankly if you posted like this more often you would probably be surprised at the change of tone directed at you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  20. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Ebenezer_Arvigenius: Frankly if you posted like this more often you would probably be surprised at the change of tone directed at you.

    Tried it way, way too many times. There’s a very vocal element here that “goes savage” at the drop of a hat, and for some odd reason they’re never called out. It’s almost as if they are seen as serving some important purpose when they coarsen the dialogue and engage in attacks.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  21. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    It’s almost as if they are seen as serving some important purpose when they coarsen the dialogue and engage in attacks.

    Defense mechanism. We are, after all, dealing with the most obstructive political agenda possibly in the nation’s history*, put on by people who deny basic science (evolution, climate change) seemingly for the profit of their donors more than any concern for their constituents.

    The dialogue coarsened when an election was decided by the Supreme Court. Then we were attacked, and the dialogue was repaired in the moment. But coarsened again when a second war was proposed, and it coarsened further as that war became more and more a complete and utter farce. Then the economy imploded with perfect enough timing that spin could place the blame on the next holder of the Oval Office. The dialogue coarsened deeply when the Republicans decided nothing Obama does can pass without a fight. Not based on any [de]merits, but simply because he wanted it passed. That sort of reflexive opposition does not a functioning body politick make.

    You can bring up any example of grift on the left you wish (you seem to like Reid’s using campaign funds to buy jewelry right now), but you can’t beat the massive grift pulled on the nation in the last decade by the Republican party spending themselves into a frenzy only for everything to blow up on them, and suddenly in the minority they become the arbiters of fiscal responsibility. This grift is of such higher magnitude that it blows political equivalency (“both sides do it”) out of the water. And on top of that, the Republican party and its activists refuse to admit this grift ever happened.

    Granted, that doesn’t excuse the left for lowering themselves to the level of such grifters on a political blog, but “he who fights with monsters,” after all…

    * Remember, the South went to war instead of trying to make Lincoln’s administration function like a diarrhetic snail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  22. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Tried it way, way too many times. There’s a very vocal element here that “goes savage” at the drop of a hat, and for some odd reason they’re never called out.

    Now, about the blog…
    a) They are called out. It doesn’t happen as often as right-leaning commenters would like, I’ll give you that, but it does happen. James Pearce and I disagreed with anjin’s characterization of Doug in this thread, for instance. The left, unlike the right, doesn’t function well monolithically.
    b) It doesn’t reinforce your case if you descend to the level of savagery you’re hit with. Pinky has the patience of a Goddamn saint considering the crap thrown at him. You, on the other hand, sometimes can’t help yourself with the insults. You are much like your opponents in that respect.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  23. bill says:

    @michael reynolds: liquor laws are weird here, and giving booze to the wrong people is offensive……in public at least. i assume there weren’t many jews/muslims receiving hams anyway!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Nikki says:

    His mistress likes to eat large!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0