Campaign finance records show Rep. McCaul spent lavishly

by | Sep 10, 2019 | 2020 Elections, Politics

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas recently opened the door to another job. In an August interview with CNN, the congressman, who represents a district stretching from northwest Harris County to Austin, said he would be a good secretary of state for President Trump, and if the job came open, it would be “of interest.” 

Rice University political scientist Mark Jones has noted McCaul, a Republican, has been “looking for the exits for a while. Being in the minority in the U.S. House is not a lot of fun.”

Still, McCaul says he’s running for re-election. But it won’t be a cakewalk. Last year, he won his race by just 4 points, compared to his roughly 20-point blowout victories in previous elections. 

McCaul, the second wealthiest member of Congress, contributed $0 to his own campaign during the 2017-2018 cycle; he raised $1.7 million, mostly from large individual contributors (totaling about $822,000) and PACs ($798,000). 

A review of publicly available finance reports over the past few years by The Texas Signal reveals what could be considered lavish spending by the congressman’s campaign. 

Since 2015, the campaign reported spending $33,086 on limousine rides. McCaul’s wife, Linda, wrote a thumbs-up review of the Austin limo company Echelon, which describes itself as a “premier limousine service company.”

“Whether the transportation need be personal or business, Echelon limousine is a very trusted company that has assisted me, as well as the needs of my husband, Congressman Michael T. McCaul, Representative, Texas 10th Congressional District and on occasion, the needs of my children,” she wrote. 

When it comes to dining out, his campaign spent more than $50,000 in food, beverage, meetings and meals, catering and facility use since 2018, including:

  • $3,300 for “haute Greek cuisine” at Nerai in New York City on two different days (May 4 and 9, 2018);
  • $1,824 in one day (June 19, 2018) at the Capitol Hill Club, a social club for Republicans in Washington, D.C. and seeming favorite of the campaign, given the number of times the club shows up on the finance report; 
  • A total of $5,788 over three days at Capital Grille in Austin, where the steaks “are meticulously dry aged on premises for more than 18 days to achieve incomparable flavor and texture.” (December 14, September 13, and March 21, 2018)

Democrats Mike Siegel, Shannon Hutcheson, and Pritesh Gandhi are running to unseat McCaul next November.  His seat is one of six 2020 House races in Texas that Democrats have identified as flippable. 

Photo: mccaul.house.gov

fernando@texassignal.com | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at fernando@texassignal.com

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