Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Senator Boxer Pays Son to Manage Her Political Action Committee

The Los Angeles Times (free registration required) has this piece on politicians who hire their relatives to run their political operations. The story is headlined:

Lawmakers Paying Family Members Is Not Uncommon Practice

Actually this story originated out of the Lefts machinations to smear House Majority Leader, Tom Delay, who it has been revealed has hired his wife and daughter to run his political operations in Texas. But, lo and behold just as many Democrats as Republicans have been doing the same thing.

Notwithstanding, we are discussing private funds that Senator Boxer and Congressman Delay have paid their relatives - private funds freely given by donors to their respective campaigns and reported to the Federal Elections Commission.

The story continues:

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 past two election cycles, the records show.

The practice is not illegal but has come under new scrutiny following reports that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's wife and daughter received $473,801 since 2001 from the Texas Republican's political action and congressional campaign committees. It also comes in the wake of disclosures that relatives of members of Congress have been hired by special interests as lobbyists or consultants.

Lawmakers are barred from putting relatives on their congressional payrolls, but they can pay them to work on their campaigns so long as the family member does bona fide campaign work and isn't paid significantly more than market rate.

The bipartisan practice is increasingly criticized by government watchdogs and even some members of Congress.

"Instinctively, it doesn't pass the smell test for me, and I don't think it would for my constituents," said Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill. LaHood said he has never employed relatives and believes the practice is wrong.

"Public service should not be a way to build a family fortune," said Celia Wexler, vice president for advocacy at Common Cause.

But 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-Calif., whose wife, Rhonda, is paid $40,000 a year to run his campaign. Over the last four years, that has added up to $114,894, records show.

DeLay has defended the payments to his wife, Christine, and his only daughter, Dani DeLay Ferro, saying his family members provided valuable service to his campaign. His daughter has managed some of his recent congressional campaigns and worked as a fund-raiser for her dad's political action committee, while his wife provides "strategic guidance" for the political action committee.

The Los Angeles Times developed a list of names of relatives and relative-owned businesses on campaign payrolls from interviews, news accounts and the personal financial disclosure reports. Campaign reports do not have to disclose whether recipients of funds are related, so the Times' list almost certainly is incomplete........

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

In addition, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, paid her son, a lawyer, $130,000 to run her political action committee. The Times did not analyze Senate campaign expenditure reports, which are not available in a searchable electronic form.

Lawmakers offer a variety of reasons for putting family members on the campaign payroll.

Rep. Ron Lewis, R-Ky., whose wife Kayi, receives $40,000 a year from the congressman's campaign fund to serve as his campaign manager, acknowledged being "very nervous about appearances." But he said he would "rather run the risk of a bad appearance than to have somebody steal all my money or to have some errors (in campaign finance reports) costing me big fines."

Boxer said that she has heard horror stories from colleagues of campaign workers who have absconded with campaign funds and knew that she would never have that problem if she put her son, Doug, in charge.

Boxer added that she turned to her son because he is the most-qualified candidate. "Who is the best person to run your operation -- that's the key thing to me," she said...."

Read the entire story here.

Flap has no problems with privately solicited and raised funds (also properly disclosed/reported to the Fedeeral Elections Commission) being used to hire whomever the candidate wants to run his show. If it is his wife, daughter or a friend it makes no difference. We are not talking public funds here but the Los angeles Times sure does spin the article to make it appear that Delay has commited ehtical violations.

But..... what about Senator Barbara Boxer's son?

So what?


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