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Alexis de Tocqueville

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Watchdog finds nepotism and self-reward in Congress

From Fierce Government:


Watchdog finds nepotism and self-reward in Congress

An analysis of members of the House of Representatives by a private watchdog finds a fair degree of nepotism and financial self-reward among elected representatives.
In a report released March 22, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington say an examination of personal financial disclosure reports, campaign finance disbursements and other databases finds that 82 congressmen (40 Democrats, 42 Republicans) paid family members through their official office, campaign committee or political action committee.
Campaign law permits using campaign funds to pay family members if they provide a bona fide service and are compensated at fair market value. But, "payments to close family members raise questions of self-dealing," CREW says.
  • Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) paid his girlfriend $622,574, CREW says.
  • Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) paid his wife $512,293.
  • Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) paid her daughter and grandson a combined $495,650.
  • Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) paid six different relatives a combined $304,599.
  • Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) paid his wife $238,438.
The report also finds man instances of congressmen reimbursing themselves from campaign funds for costs such as babysitting.
  • Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) was reimbursed $261,764.
  • Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) was reimbursed $229,899.
  • Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) was reimbursed $168,947.
  • Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) was reimbursed $154,466.
  • Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) was reimbursed $122,473.
Reimbursement expenses are common and legal, CREW says, but millions of dollars in reimbursement costs "flow through campaign accounts with little oversight," the report adds. "Recently, there have been high-profile cases of improper spending," it adds.
Fourteen members (six Democrats and eight Republicans) charged interest on personal loans they made of their own campaigns.
  • Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) loaned her campaign $150,000 in 1998 and collected more than $94,000 in interest during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, alone.
  • Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) loaned her campaign $125,000 and collected more than $31,000 in interest.
  • Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) loaned his campaign $309,000 and has so far collected nearly $29,000 in interest.
In addition, Reps. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) paid themselves salaries from their campaign funds while running for office, "a practice legal but uncommon," CREW says. Lankford paid himself $5,000 during the 2010 election cycle, and Kinzinger paid himself $4,905 during the 2010 election, according to CREW data.
For more:
download the CREW report, "Family Affair" (.pdf)
go to an online database incorporating the research into members' family relationships hosted by LegiStorm (in partnership with CREW)


Read more: Watchdog finds nepotism and self-reward in Congress - FierceGovernment http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/watchdog-finds-nepotism-and-self-reward-congress/2012-03-27?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal#ixzz1qM53s65u
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