Re­port: Cam­paign funds be­come ‘a fam­ily af­fair’

Group ques­tions pay­ments to rel­a­tives

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY CHUCK NEUBAUER

Re­pub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Ron Paul used cam­paign funds to pay salaries and fees to more mem­bers of his own fam­ily than any other law­maker in the House, ac­cord­ing to a re­cently re­leased re­port, hand­ing over more than $300,000 dur­ing the 2008 and 2010 elec­tion cy­cles.

The Com­mit­tee to Re-elect Ron Paul paid salaries to his daugh­ter, his grand­son, his daugh­ter’s mother-in­law, his grand­daugh­ter, his grand­son-in-law and “an­other rel­a­tive,” said a re­port re­leased Thurs­day by the Cit­i­zens for Re­spon­si­bil­ity and Ethics in Washington (CREW). In ad­di­tion, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, cam­paign funds were used to pay his brother’s ac­count­ing firm more than $48,000.

Cam­paign funds and money from Mr. Paul’s po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee, Lib­erty Pac, also were used to re­im­burse Mr. Paul for travel, gifts, flags, food and “un­spec­i­fied ex­penses,” the re­port said, adding that Lib­erty PAC also paid his daugh­ter a salary.

But Mr. Paul is not alone in help­ing fam­ily mem­bers, ac­cord­ing to the 344-page CREW re­port, ti­tled “Fam­ily Af­fair,” which said a “shock­ing 248 House mem­bers used their po­si­tions to fi­nan­cially ben­e­fit them­selves or fam­ily mem­bers.”

In ad­di­tion to putting rel­a­tives on their cam­paign pay­rolls, House mem­bers also used cam­paign funds as their per­sonal piggy banks, charg­ing for over­seas trips, mak­ing do­na­tions to char­i­ties with ties to rel­a­tives and pay­ing for baby sit­ters.

“This re­port shows law­mak­ers still haven’t learned it is wrong to trade on their po­si­tions as elected lead­ers to ben­e­fit them­selves and their fam­i­lies,” said CREW Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Me­lanie Sloan. The re­port said mil­lions of dol­lars “flow through cam­paign ac­counts with lit­tle over­sight and spo­radic scru­tiny from the tooth­less FEC ( Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion).”

Mr. Paul was one of 82 mem­bers — 40 Democrats and 42 Repub­li­cans — who paid fam­ily mem­bers salaries or fees mainly through their cam­paign funds, which is le­gal if they are paid a fair mar­ket rate for the work.

Gary Howard , press sec­re­tary for the Paul cam­paign, dis­missed the CREW re­port, call­ing it a “sad at­tempt . . . to grab cheap head­lines.” He said Mr. Paul’s cam­paigns have raised more than $100 mil­lion dur­ing the last five years and em­ployed hun­dreds if not thou­sands of peo­ple.

“Fam­ily mem­bers have re­ceived a tiny frac­tion of 1 per­cent of jobs and salaries,” he said.

Law­mak­ers listed in the re­port in­cluded:

Rep. Aaron Schock, Illi­nois Re­pub­li­can, who re­im­bursed him­self from his cam­paign fund for more than $150,000 in ex­penses, in­clud­ing $30,000 in ho­tel bills. The lodg­ings ranged from the Hamp­ton Inn to ex­pen­sive five-star re­sorts in Mi­ami and Athens.

A Schock spokesman called the Athens bill a “mis­take,” adding that the con­gress­man paid the money back to the cam­paign.

Rep. Robert E. An­drews, New Jer­sey Demo­crat, spent more than $9,000 in cam­paign funds on a lux­ury trip with his wife and two daugh­ters to the wed­ding in Scot­land of a cam­paign ad­viser; and used nearly $100,000 in cam­paign funds to sup­port the­aters and arts or­ga­ni­za­tions where his teenage daugh­ter is an as­pir­ing ac­tress and singer.

Fran Tag­mire, the con­gress­man’s cam­paign man­ager, said Mr. An­drews re­im­bursed the ex­penses of the Scot­land trip, but “proudly sup­ported arts or­ga­ni­za­tions” and his daugh­ter’s ac­tiv­i­ties are “com­pletely sep­a­rate and in­de­pen­dent from these ex­pen­di­tures.”

Rep. Ja­son Chaf­fetz, Utah Re­pub­li­can, used cam­paign funds to re­im­burse him­self more than $5,000 in baby-sit­ting and child care ex­penses dur­ing the 2010 elec­tion cy­cle. His wife was re­im­bursed $1,515 for babysit­ting, travel, gifts and meet­ings.

Mr. Chaf­fetz’s of­fice did not respond to calls for com­ment.

Rep. Ti­mothy J. Walz, Min­nesota Demo­crat, was re­im­bursed $15,840 for travel, baby-sit­ting and child care costs, food and mileage ex­penses dur­ing the 2008 elec­tion cy­cle.

Mr. Walz also did not respond for com­ment.

Rep. Sil­vestre Reyes, Texas Demo­crat, paid re­im­burse­ments of more than $400,000 from his po­lit­i­cal funds to him­self and his niece, Veron­ica Cin­tron, who runs his cam­paigns, for travel ex­penses, of­fice sup­plies, food and cam­paign gifts. He also re­im­bursed Ms. Cin­tron for char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions.

Mr. Reyes de­fended the re­im­burse­ments, say­ing his cam­paign fol­lowed the law and that as a for­mer law en­force­ment of­fi­cer and Viet­nam veteran, “I take trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity se­ri­ously.” He also de­fended pay­ing his niece $175,550 over the four years in the study, say­ing she worked “round- the- clock help­ing me run my cam­paign.”

Rep. Michael F. Doyle, Penn­syl­va­nia Demo­crat, used $1,100 in cam­paign funds to pay his son for live stunt shows at cam­paign pic­nics. The son’s web­site says he does fire per­form­ing, es­cape artistry, stilt walk­ing and ac­ro­bat­ics.

Mr. Doyle did not respond for com­ment.

Rep. Aaron Schock, Illi­nois Re­pub­li­can, re­im­bursed him­self from his cam­paign fund for more than $150,000 in ex­penses, in­clud­ing $30,000 in ho­tel bills. The con­gress­man paid back money for a trip to Athens.

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