OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - With their excess campaign cash, politicians in Washington state often return money to donors, forward it to their political party or donate it to charity.
Others, however, decide to use the funds for more personal things: alcohol, iPads, clothing, tuition, rent and auto repairs.
The spending tests the boundaries of state law and is conducted with little scrutiny through so-called surplus accounts that rarely get public examination. The Associated Press identified hundreds of debatable expenses - from both Democrats and Republicans - during a computer analysis of more than 500,000 reported payments obtained under public disclosure laws.
Politicians say the spending is allowed under an umbrella option that allows them to spend the money for "public office-related expenses." State officials caution against purchases that might have personal uses, noting that the expenses must be tied solely to office work.
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