Nearly One-Third of Congress Has Family On Payroll

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If you think only Rep. "Dollar" Bill Jefferson was an anomaly, for creating shell companies to siphon political money to his family, you'd be wrong. Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics have released an extensive study of one branch of Congress showing more than two-thirds of our leaders are exploiting their position to ensure their family is in the lap of luxury.

CREW decided to undertake the study in light of several well publicized cases of members of Congress using their positions to enrich their family members. CREW examined 337 members of the House over the 2002, 2004 and 2006 election cycles.

Highlights of the report include:

* 64 paid family members through their campaign committees or PACs (26 Democrats and 38 Republicans);
* 24 have relatives who lobby Congress (10 Democrats and 14 Republicans);
* 19 used their campaign committees or PACs to pay a family business or a business that employs a family member (9 Democrats and 10 Republicans);
* 17 used their campaign funds to make campaign contributions to relatives (11 Democrats and 6 Republicans);
* 15 used their positions to benefit a family member or a family member’s client (3 Democrats and 12 Republicans);
* At least 7 paid offspring who ranged from school-age to college-age (all Republicans)

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said, "CREW’s report, Family Affair, shines a spotlight on the troubling practice of lawmakers using their congressional positions as profit centers for family members. Our hope is that the release of Family Affair spearheads a public debate leading to changes in existing law to end these abuses."

Among the report’s highlights:

Rep. Randy Forbes’s (R-VA) campaign committee paid his three children over $45,000.

Rep. Paul Kanjorski’s (D-PA) campaign committee and leadership PAC have paid his own company (which he co-owns with his brother) over $40,000 in rent and his campaign committee paid two of his nephews over $70,000. In addition, two companies which are partly owned by Rep. Kanjorski’s family members have received over $9.4 million in earmarks.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s (D-CA) campaign committee has paid her husband’s two businesses almost $350,000, mostly for event management, accounting and fundraising services.

Rep. Chris Cannon’s (R-UT) campaign committee paid six of his eight children over $60,000. In addition, Rep. Cannon has used his position to assist his brother’s clients.

The report includes both an analysis of the legal implications of the findings and recommendations for changes to existing law.





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