Turns out it pays to serve in Congress — if you’re the lawmaker’s son, grandson, niece or cousin.
A new report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) found “an extraordinary compendium of creative accounting, self-interested budgeting and generous expense reimbursements” by lawmakers in the last two election cycles.
The “Family Affair” report “highlights common practices that translate into tens of millions of dollars in payments to relatives or the lawmakers themselves,” reports Eric Lipton in The New York Times.
As Lipton notes, there are hundreds of examples to choose from — and most of these practices do not appear to violate any laws or House ethics rules. Here are some examples:
— Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), a GOP presidential hopeful, paid more than $300,000 in salaries or fees to his daughter, brother, grandson, daughter’s mother-in-law, granddaughter and grandson-in-law, the report said. (Paul spokesman Jesse Benton told the Times: “Any implication that there is anything inappropriate is wildly off base.”)
— Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas) paid two grandnieces and a son-in-law with his re-election campaign funds and contributed money from his campaign account to his daughter’s election bid for county clerk in Texas.
— Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) has two daughters who have worked in Washington as lobbyists, one for General Motors, the other for the chemical giant Monsanto. She is one of 44 House lawmakers who have a relative who is registered to lobby or at least works in government affairs, the report said.
Here’s a look at other stories I’m reading today:
— House rejects Senate transportation bill with procedural vote (by Ashley Halsey III in The Washington Post): “House leaders said they plan to introduce legislation on Thursday to continue transportation funding at current levels for another 90 days. If approved, it would be the ninth such extension since the last long-term funding plan expired more than two years ago.”
— Obama nominees still frozen by GOP (by Al Kamen at The Post): Democrats have criticized the GOP’s stance as partisan politics, but it should be noted that some Republicans are also caught up in the freeze.
— Eric Cantor Uses ‘Real Bullets’ in Primary Endorsement (by Jessica Brady and John Stanton in Roll Call): The majority leader’s backing of a winner in the Illinois GOP primary decision has only solidified his power base.
— Lawmakers scramble for SCOTUS tickets (by Jennifer Haberkorn and Kate Nocera in Politico): The court gave a limited number of tickets to the leaders of the House and Senate for the three days of arguments over the federal health-care law — “not nearly enough for the 535 elected lawmakers. So that leaves a lot of room for the leaders to choose who gets to go, and on what days.”
— Expect a Nasty Arizona Member-Vs.-Member Battle (by Abby Livingston in Roll Call): State observers say it will be a “nasty, costly race between two up-and-coming freshman” representatives.
— Senate Delays Vote on Start-Ups Bill for 2 Amendments (by Edward Wyatt in the New York Times): The JOBS bill is scheduled for a vote on Thursday, “after the Senate considers two Democratic amendments to tighten proposed rules on how companies raise financing online and to strengthen other provisions that were approved by the House.”
— Dick Lugar to repay home state hotel expenses (by Manu Raju in Politico): “The long-serving Senate Republican said because of staff errors, taxpayer money was improperly used to pay for about $4,500 in hotel expenses over the past decade.”
Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost
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