It may be legal for Alan Keyes, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, to draw an $8,500-a-month salary from his campaign treasury to pay his mortgage and living expenses. But the amount involved certainly is unusual -- more than $100,000 on an annual basis. That much money hardly jibes with Mr. Keyes' portrayal of himself as just an ordinary working man trying to make ends meet.
Since 1980, candidates have had wide latitude in how they spend money they raise under federal campaign finance rules. Most candidates take out loans during campaigns. But relatively few borrow from their own campaign war chests. It is rare for them to pay themselves salary from campaign funds to cover living expenses.
First District Republican Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, for example, paid himself a small salary of $250 a week from campaign funds toward the end of his 1990 campaign. But in January the Federal Elections Commission split on whether Roger Faulkner, a Republican Senate candidate in Wisconsin, could properly draw a $3,000 monthly salary from campaign funds to cover rent, food, child support and health care. A commission spokesman said the decision leaves it unclear whether the practice is legal and warned that candidates who engage in it now do so at their own risk.