Democratic Party accuses Van Orden of misusing campaign funds in FEC complaint

MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) — The Democratic Party of Wisconsin is filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing Republican Derrick Van Orden of using campaign funds improperly to travel to Washington, D.C., for the Jan. 6 riot.

Derrick Van OrdenVan Orden ran against U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, in 2020 and has declared candidacy to run against Kind again in 2022 to represent Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District.

The complaint against Van Orden, Van Orden for Congress and treasurer Mary Clancy, says he used funds donated to his campaign to travel to the Save America Rally, which turned violent after protesters stormed the federal Capitol Building while the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were confirming Joe Biden as president of the United States. More than 500 people have been arrested for their parts in the insurrection.

Van Orden has gone on the record saying he went to the rally as a citizen concerned about the integrity of the 2020 presidential election; however, he said he did not take part in any illegal activity.

The complaint alleges that Van Orden used campaign funds to pay for his trip to the U.S. capitol while he was not a candidate for office. The trip took place after Van Orden lost to Kind and prior to his announcement that he intended to run a second time.

“Van Orden was and is free to use his personal bank account to travel around the country for any causes he deems worthy of his time. But, he is prohibited by the Act from using his campaign funds for such personal activity,” says the complaint. “His campaign account is not his personal travel slush fund.”

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin argues that Van Orden traveled to Washington, D.C., as a private citizen, not a congressional candidate, and so was not allowed to use campaign funds for the visit.

“Here, Van Orden was not a candidate at the time of his trip, and the trip to Washington, DC seems to be an expense for a trip that existed irrespective of any federal campaign,” says the complaint.

FEC campaign finance records show Van Orden for Congress spent $469.62 at the Hampton Inn Washington, D.C., Naval Yard on Jan. 3 and $655.60 at the same hotel on Jan. 8.

“Derrick Van Orden not only lied about his involvement in a deadly attack on our democracy, but he appears to have violated federal law by bankrolling his attendance as he stood on the Capitol grounds during the insurrection on his campaign’s dime,” said Democratic Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Nellie Sires. “Van Orden’s misconduct is disturbing, unethical, and confirms he’s unfit to represent Wisconsin.”

Van Orden for Congress criticized the complaint as “frivolous.”

“This is a frivolous complaint by a bad faith campaign. Two weeks ago Ron Kind missed votes in Congress so Joe Biden could buy him two scoops of ice cream, and then claimed it was a meeting to talk about vaccination rates to cover it up. Anybody who used to think Ron Kind isn’t a typical Washington D.C. politician is being shown otherwise on a nearly daily basis. The lies that Ron Kind and his allies continue to push prove exactly what Derrick has said about entrenched politicians like Ron Kind for the last year: they will do and say anything to keep their power,” said the campaign in a statement.

Read the complaint here: DPWVanOrdenFECComplaint

As of Monday evening, the FEC had not received the complaint.

You can learn more about the process once the complaint is received here.