WASHINGTON — Members of Congress may legally solicit four types of payments from special interest groups. They are:
PAC Contributions: Political action committees are permitted to collect up to $5,000 a year from persons who wish to support their point of view. In turn, these committees may make contributions of up to $5,000 for each primary and $5,000 for each general election to the campaign coffers of a member of Congress or candidate for office. Although many corporations and labor unions have PACs, the money must come from members or employees, not corporate or union treasuries.
Individual Contributions: Individuals also may contribute directly to the campaigns of members of Congress or persons running for Congress. No person may give more than $2,000 to a single member of Congress or candidate during one election cycle--$1,000 for the primary and $1,000 for the general election. In addition, individuals are not allowed to give more than a total of $25,000 to candidates for federal office in any one year.
Honorariums: All members of Congress may accept up to $2,000 from special interests as payment for an appearance or speech. Unlike campaign contributions, these fees are personal income. Currently, House members may pocket up to $26,850 in honorariums; senators may accept a maximum of $26,568. Beginning next year, honorariums will be banned for House members and limited to $23,568 for a senator. All fees received beyond these limits must be given to charity.
Expenses: Members of Congress may also accept reimbursements from special interests for the costs of transportation, lodging, meals and entertainment related to speaking engagements.