Congressman Under Fire After Using Campaign Cash For Wife’s Travel, ‘Flight Upgrades’

Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-IN) has been spending thousand of dollars of campaign cash on ‘upgrades’ and flights for his wife, according to FEC filings. He’s coming under criticism for doing so, since campaign funds can’t be used for personal expenses. However I suspect that the freshman congressman, who is locked in a toss-up race for re-election, is getting a bad rap.

Mrvan, who has represented Indiana’s 1st Congressional District since taking office 2021, has doled out an estimated $4,012 through his campaign on flights to and from Washington, D.C., for his wife, Jane Mrvan, including seat upgrades from July 2021 to May 2022.

Mrvan’s most recent filings with the FEC revealed that the flight purchases and upgrades have continued well into 2022.

Here’s a sample from the campaign’s filing:

Spender Recipient Description Disbursement date Amount
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS AMERICAN AIRLINES JANE TO DC 1/31/2022 $384.20
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS AMERICAN AIRLINES JANE FROM DC 12/9/2021 $197.40
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS AMERICAN AIRLINES JANE TO DC 10/19/2021 $148.40
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT UPGRADE 10/19/2021 $33.52
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS AMERICAN AIRLINES UPGRADE 10/12/2021 $14.01
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS AMERICAN AIRLINES FLIGHT UPGRADE 10/12/2021 $44.24
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO. JANE FROM DC 9/29/2021 $340.99
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS SOUTHWEST AIRLINES JANE TO DC 9/28/2021 $287.98
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS AMERICAN AIRLINES JANE TO DC SEAT UPGRADE 9/10/2021 $16.71
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS AMERICAN AIRLINES JANE TO DC 9/10/2021 $164.39
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS AMERICAN AIRLINES JANE IN FROM DC 7/20/2021 $194.40
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS AMERICAN AIRLINES JANE OUT TO DC 7/13/2021 $268.40
MRVAN FOR CONGRESS UNITED AIRLINES SEAT UPGRADE FOR DC TRIP 11/12/2020 $39.00

A campaign spokesman defends the campaign covering the congressman’s wife’s flights to and from DC because his role in Congress is a “family commitment.”

Frank believes holding public office is a family commitment, and he is proud that Jane is supportive and welcomes her active role…This election is about delivering results for Indiana’s 1st Congressional District, and Frank is proud to support investments in the South Shore Rail Line, the Gary/Chicago International Airport and environmental cleanup and restoration projects, all of which the Republican nominee would oppose.

If public office ‘is a family commitment’ then the seat upgrades must be explained by the maxim, “happy wife, happy life.”

The interesting thing here is that the criticism stems from filings which are pretty transparent from the campaign itself. And it’s pretty obvious that opposing campaigns (and sometimes journalists) will comb through those reports. There’s no attempt to obfuscate anything. That’s the first clue that some of the criticism may just stem from the wording used by inept campaign staff. Look at the prices paid for these ‘upgrades.’

These look generally like payments by a non-elite traveler for advance seat assignments. Calling these seat assignments ‘upgrades’ is inartful at best.

And while flights to and from DC appear to be having the campaign cover family travel to visit the Congressman (allowed under certain conditions) it’s more likely that his spouse is living in DC most of the time and the campaign is paying for her to travel to the district to.. campaign in any case.

The lesson here seems to be that it’s important for a politician to hire experienced staff to fill out paperwork, because the paperwork is going to be public. It matters whether the staffer writes ‘seat assignment fee’ instead of upgrade, and ‘flight for campaign trip’ instead of ‘flight from dc’.

(HT: @crucker)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Do you commit to public office for the people or family only? Seems like this person not fit to be politician. Need to reboot all these kind of people

  2. Still nothing compared to Florida.

    The former Dem gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum used campaign funds to do meth with gay escorts in Miami Beach. But everything is peachy now, there’s no way the Democrats would ever let the next gubernatorial candidates be a closeted gay man nor a narcotics dealer.

    Oh wait, Charlie Crist is secretly homosexual that switched from the Republican to Democratic party and divorced his wife, and Nikki Fried’s become agricultural commissioner to help pass legislation so her boyfriend’s marijuana business doesn’t require safety standards.

  3. Amateur. Just give her a campaign title, like Assistant Outreach Officer. Problem solved.

  4. If anything, this guy should be re-elected because he wasn’t trying to lie like every other politician

    That being said, calling those “upgrades” and not hiding this better is pretty dumb on his part

  5. Of course, this is nothing like asking supporters to pay for repairs on a maintenance-impaired 757.

    All politicians of all parties pull stuff. They all use their positions. None of them are clean. Period.

  6. Mrvan having his supporters pay for his wife’s travel expenses? Why can’t I say I am surprised.

    You think this is bad? You should see what that lying, Trump-loving, cheapskate slime ball US Senator Ron Johnson has been doing with traveling. Or even worse yet, what his Lord Trump did with money he raised from his supporters.

  7. He’s a bad guy because he is a Dem or would be one if he were a rino. Too often politicians get blamed for breaking trivial congressional rules or ethics nonsense that amount to nothing in comparison to them doing actual harm like oppose free speech, school choice, free association, or supporting taxes, gun control, or forced diversity. Focusing on flight upgrades or etc is a distraction from the real issues.

  8. Sorry, no dice. If I did this, I’d be fired. If he honestly thought this was fine, he’s too stupid to be in Congress. And that bar is already set pretty low.

  9. You suspect this unethical Democrat is getting a bum rap? Seems to this old retired fraud examiner that this skunk has earned his stripes.

  10. Actually, there is an FEC rule on this, and for spouses, it’s allowed, if it’s between the district and DC. It would be nice if Fox News had bothered to check . . . .

  11. We get it… You’re a Democrat. Regardless of political party, it should be illegal for politicians to use campaign funds for personal expenses if it isn’t already. Audits should be conducted regularly. Seat upgrades or seat assignments fees should not qualify. Have them purchase an upgraded seat out of their own pockets!

  12. He is a D so anything goes and nothng happens…I.E Hunter!!!
    Erick you are right on!!! Andrew got tons of Soros $$$$ also

  13. Scumbag demokkkrats can do whatever the F#$K they want and get away with it. While new laws (ie: “contempt of congress” *rolleyes*) are made up on the fly to punish those who have NOT joined the Dark Side!

    That is demokkkrat privilege! Just ask mobster, Hunter Biden and the rest of his crime family…..

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