Washington — Retiring Rep. Elizabeth Esty has returned nearly $350,000 in contributions, but still has more than $1 million in her campaign account, the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission show.
Esty, D-5th District, in April announced she would not run for a fourth term in Congress, following scorching criticism of how she handled complaints of harassment against her then-chief of staff.
Esty was proficient in raising campaign cash, but as a retiring lawmaker must under federal law return all contributions to her campaign that were earmarked for November’s general election. The campaign was required to return all general election contributions within 60 days of her April 2 announcement that she would not seek re-election.
The campaign, however, is allowed to keep all donations that were designated as contributions to the primary election and money carried over from previous campaign cycles.
The Esty campaign’s mid-year report to the FEC show it returned about $250,000 in contributions to individuals and another $100,000 to political action committees, or PACs.
The Esty campaign returned donations to more than a dozen fellow Democratic House members who supported her campaign, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md. The campaign also gave $8,400 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, returned $2,500 received form Sen. Chris Murphy’s leadership PAC — the MurphPAC – and $1,500 received from the Salisbury Democratic Town Committee.
Despite the dozens of returned contributions, the Esty campaign reported more than $1 million in cash-on-hand as of June 30.
Esty is barred under federal law from spending that money on personal use – only on expenses to “wind down” her campaign.
She can also contribute that money to other federal candidates – with a $2,000 limit on those donations – and to state candidates. The amount she can donate to state candidates is restricted by state campaign finance laws.
Esty can also make unlimited donations to charities and non-profits from her unspent campaign money – or save it for a future run for office.
Tim Daly, senior adviser to the Esty campaign, said the congresswoman does not plan on donating any money left in her warchest.
“She has said she is going to wait until after the election to decide what she wants to do with it,” Daly said.