Republican Sen. Josh Hawley used campaign funds to pay for $197 in food during family Universal Studios trip

  • The New York Post uncovered questionable spending by Republican Sen. Josh Hawley. 
  • FEC records show Hawley used campaign funds to pay for food for his family during a lobbyist retreat at Universal Studios.
  • Hawley’s office told Insider that he later reimbursed the expenses.  
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, who has been in the spotlight in recent days for stirring up Trump supporters who breached the Capitol, is attracting scrutiny for using campaign funds to pay for food for his family during a lobbyist retreat outing at Universal Studios Orlando. 

The New York Post was the first to uncover the Federal Election Commission records showing Hawley using $197 in campaign funds to buy food at Universal Studios vendors like Lard Lad Donuts and Margaritaville.

Politicians are expressly prohibited from using campaign funds to pay for personal expenditures.



Hawley and his family visited Universal Studios as part of a family-friend lobbyist retreat to Orlando in March 2020.

Read more: SCOOP: Josh Hawley says he is not running for president in 2024

When reached for comment by Insider, Hawley’s office said the senator later reimbursed the spending, albeit more than 10 months later, on January 30. His office said that the event “is designed specifically for families to attend.”

Ann Ravel, former chairwoman of the FEC under President Obama between 2013 and 2017, told The Post that Hawley’s spending at Universal Studios “appears to not be a legal use of campaign funds.”

A post shared by Josh Hawley (@joshhawleymo)

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, agreed with Ravel, telling The Post that “it does warrant some scrutiny.” 

Campaign finance violations can ruin a politician’s career. In January 2020, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) resigned from the House of Representatives after pleading guilty to corruption in connection to an investigation into his campaign finances. He was pardoned in December by President Trump.

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