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U.S. senator under fire for allegedly using campaign money for destination marathons

Arizona state senator Kyrsten Sinema's race weekends and lavish lodging has drawn attention on social media

Kyrsten Sinema Photo by: @KyrstenSinema/Twitter

As Arizona state senator and politician Kyrsten Sinema prepares for the 2024 election, she is receiving some fire online for allegedly using fundraisers and campaign dollars to cover the expenses of her destination marathons, according to an investigation by the American political and pop culture news website The Daily Beast.

Kyrsten Sinema
U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema speaking with attendees at the 2019 Arizona Technology Innovation Summit at The Duce in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo: Gage Skidmore

Boston-bound

When Sinema participated in the 2022 Boston Marathon, she took pride in sharing her accomplishment on social media. However, The Daily Beast revealed that Sinema received over $16,000 in campaign contributions from a few donors in Massachusetts in April 2022, some of whom contributed at the maximum allowable level of $2,800.

The publication also found that Sinema’s campaign paid a significant amount ($8,470) for lodging expenses at an unspecified Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston. A photo posted by Sinema on Twitter showed her and her friend in a Ritz-Carlton hotel room with celebratory gift bags and certificates featuring the luxury hotel chain’s lion logo.

Additional evidence was found in the financial filings of Sinema’s political action committee (PAC), Getting Stuff Done, which spent over $1,500 on meeting meals and event supplies at businesses in the Boston area during the week of the race.

More marathons

Sinema’s pattern of potentially using campaign funds for marathon-related expenses is not limited to the 2022 Boston Marathon. In May 2019, she participated in the Mountains2Beach Marathon in Ojai, Calif., where she raised around $21,000 from donors in the area. Her campaign also reportedly spent $400 on lodging in Santa Barbara.

Kyrsten Sinema
U.S. politician Kyrsten Sinema (right) at the 2022 Boston Marathon. Photo: @KyrstenSinema/Twitter

Sinema intended to run the 2021 Boston Marathon, but ended up not being able to compete due to a broken foot. However, she still attended the race and reported spending nearly $1,500 on catering expenses and more than $5,200 on transportation services provided by a Boston-based limo company. That month, she raised $36,000 from donors in Massachusetts.

Online heat

A spokesperson for Sinema did not respond to media inquiries regarding her marathon-related spending or the use of campaign funds, which has generated heat on Twitter.

“Looks like Sinema has been scheduling fundraisers on personal trips to cover the cost of her personal trips…by doing this she is using donor money to pay for those trips…this appears to be a no-no,” one Twitter user said.

Sinema appears to be holding fundraisers in places where she also runs marathons so she can charge her airfare and hotel to the campaign. What a coincidence!” said another. “It seems Sinema is just another politician in it for the perks.”

Investigative journalist Brendan Fischer of the media group Documented told The Daily Beast that the FEC generally isn’t going to scrutinize this kind of spending: “Tacking some personal activities onto a fundraising trip is generally fine, but this appears to be the inverse—tacking fundraisers on to personal trips to justify the use of campaign funds to cover the costs.”

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