June 30, 2024

By Jon Levine


A Democrat challenging Rep. Elise Stefanik has been using campaign funds to pay rent for her district residence — a potential violation of federal election finance rules, records show.

Paula Collins has paid more than $4,000 this year on rent and “office rent” to White Pillars, a bed and breakfast in upstate Canton.

White Pillars is not an office space, however, and an apartment owned by the company was listed by Collins as her candidate home address, according to a New York Board of Elections filing.

Collins, a cannabis tax attorney, is a longtime Greenwich Village resident and only registered in Stefanik’s upstate district in February, records show.

She has in the past courted controversy as a progressive lightening rod, and took heat earlier this month for saying supporters of former President Donald Trump needed to be sent to “re-education camps.”

Stefanik represents a sprawling district that stretches from Cooperstown to the Canadian border.

The powerful House GOP conference chair is a heavy favorite to keep the seat in the 2024 elections.

Ann Ravel, a Democratic former chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, told The Post the rent payments were “unusual.”

“Those are things that are generally not appropriate uses for campaign funds,” Ravel said. The US Code of Federal Regulations additionally defines rent payments taken from campaign funds as a personal use violation.

The issue prompted an official complaint to the FEC Friday from the New York Republican State Committee, calling on the commission to “conduct an immediate investigation and impose the maximum penalty under law.”

Alex deGrasse, a senior advisor to Stefanik blasted Collins as “illegally using political donations to pay her rent at a bed and breakfast.”

Reached by phone Collins defended the payments and brushed aside the possible FEC implications.

“It’s essentially a campaign office and I live there. It’s essentially all in one. There is no other campaign office that is being paid for in the district,” Collins said, adding that should she unseat Stefanik and be elected to Congress she would move to split up her work and personal living situation.