Rep. Ryan rolling in campaign dough

On the side

No column for a while: I’m currently on vacation, returning to work late next week so there won’t be a column next Friday. Actually, there won’t be a column for longer than that.

A few days after I return to work, I’ll be gone again to have arthroscopic surgery on Aug. 5 to remove bone spurs from my left shoulder. It’s difficult to say how long the recovery period will be as that is based on the amount of damage the doctor finds and repairs. It will be at least a few weeks.

Filing deadline: Aug. 6 is the deadline to file issues, questions and liquor options with county boards of elections for the Nov. 4 general election.

There is little — if any — doubt that U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan will be re-elected in November to his seventh two-year term in the House.

Ryan of Howland, D-13th, will face Republican Thomas Pekarek of Cleveland in the general election.

Don’t expect to see much of a campaign from Pekarek. He’s run in his home congressional district twice — getting 18 percent of the vote in the 11th Congressional District race in 2010 and 15 percent in 2008. He didn’t raise enough money in either failed bid to file campaign finance reports.

Pekarek also lost two state Senate races, a Cuyahoga County commissioner race and failed to win a 1982 congressional election.

While it won’t be a contest, Ryan’s campaign has raised $783,027 for this election as of June 30.

His campaign is having a fundraiser on Aug. 25 with tickets costing $100. There’s also sponsorships of that event with prices ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, the latter for political action committees.

So why does Ryan need all this money?

The Federal Election Commission has rules in place when it comes to campaign spending. Except for an improper loan during his first congressional campaign in 2002 that resulted in Ryan paying a $10,000 fine for the violation two years later, he has kept his nose clean.

It’s pretty hard not to as the FEC’s rules are rather liberal.

I don’t want to come across as picking on Ryan, but he’s the congressman for a large number of our readers and an example of what incumbents do with their contributions.

Here’s a look at his most recent campaign finance filing, which covers financial activity from April 17 to June 30. In a span of less than 21/2 months, Ryan spent:

$3,376 for hotel stays — it appears on the report that he stayed three times in New York City, and once each in San Francisco and Denver.

$5,260 for numerous airline flights.

$1,352 on Amtrak train rides.

$523 on rental cars.

$426 for 15 taxi rides while in San Francisco.

I can’t even begin to add up meal expenses, but Ryan’s campaign paid for a lot of them.

Some were cheap such as $9.07 for a meal at Panera Bread in Warren, though his campaign paid a $107.98 meal bill at that same Panera — that’s a lot of cinammon rolls and coffees.

Others were more expensive.

That included a $441.26 meal bill at The Carlyle, a French restaurant in New York City; $352.50 at Fiola Mare, a pricey restaurant in Washington, D.C.; $461.36 at the Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse in Columbus; and $301.30 at Barbalu, an Italian restaurant in New York City. There’s no information on the reports about whether Ryan ate alone or his campaign picked up the tab for others.

As I mentioned, Ryan is hardly the only congressman to use campaign money for meals and travel.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, spent thousands of dollars on meals, car rentals, and three hotel stays during that same time period between April 17 and June 30.

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