Texas This I Know...

Texas This I Know...
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Thursday, April 14, 2005

More Than 3 Million Paid to Congressional Family Members in Last Election Cycle

How come stories like this are coming out now? Why were they not developed at the same time the Tom Delay story was being put together? Could it be that the reporters did not give a damn about fairness? Balance? Could they possibly have an agenda?

WASHINGTON — At least 39 members of Congress have engaged in the controversial practice of paying their spouses, children or other relatives out of campaign funds, or have hired companies in which a family member had a financial interest, records and interviews show.

House campaign funds have paid more than $3 million to lawmakers' relatives over the last two election cycles, records show....

Many lawmakers who have hired relatives say their motivation is confidence, not profit.

"I need a campaign manager I can trust," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), whose wife, Rhonda, is now paid $40,000 a year to run his campaign. Over the last four years, she has received $114,894, records show.

DeLay, a Texas Republican, has defended the payments to his wife, Christine, and his daughter, Danielle DeLay Ferro, saying his family members provided valuable service to his campaign. They received $473,801 over the last two election cycles, records show....

The Times developed a list of names of relatives and businesses owned by relatives on campaign payrolls from interviews, news accounts and personal financial disclosure reports. Campaign reports do not have to disclose whether recipients of funds are related to a candidate, so The Times' list is most likely incomplete.

...The Times' analysis of two election cycles... The campaign fund of Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) paid $251,853 to her husband's firm, according to the candidate's campaign filings. She was followed by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-North Hollywood), $205,500; Rep. Bob Filner (D-San Diego), $154,504; and Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), $152,362.

Altogether, at least 10 lawmakers in the 53-member California House delegation have hired family members, according to records and interviews.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Hayward) paid his wife, Deborah, $119,000 from his campaign fund over the last four years to serve as his campaign manager, records show. In the last election, she earned $2,400 a month as campaign manager and was awarded a $2,400 bonus.

"It's just a matter of paying her for the professional job she was doing," Stark said.

In addition, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) paid her son, a lawyer, $130,000 over four years to run her political action committee, according to her campaign filings....

FEC regulations permit salary payments to family members for "bona fide, campaign-related services," according to a 2001 advisory opinion issued to Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.). Jackson had asked the commission whether he could hire his wife, Sandi, as a paid campaign consultant.

"Any salary in excess of fair market value of the services provided is personal use," the opinion said, noting that it was illegal for candidates to use campaign funds for personal use....

Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-Texas)[a Democrat flopper], whose political committee paid his daughter-in-law Jody $123,761 for the last two campaigns, said, "I don't see anything wrong with it if she's doing real work for real pay."


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