The following year, one of Andrews’s political opponents turned the earmarks into a campaign issue. Andrews continued to earmark money for the law school scholarship program, filing certifications that stated “neither I nor my spouse has any financial interest in the project.”
The congressman said his wife has no direct oversight of the scholarship program. He added that he is proud of the earmarks, citing them as an example of why the moratorium should be lifted.
“These earmarks put money into a scholarship program that required students to provide free legal services to the poorest people in a very poor city — Camden,” Andrews said.
Camille Spinello Andrews did not return calls or e-mails seeking comment.
The congressman acknowledged that earmark abuses have taken place and the latest rule changes governing earmarks have not reformed the practice.
“When a member wants funding for a project in their district, they call or write to an unelected official in the executive branch,” he said. “Recently, I called [Transportation] Secretary Ray LaHood and asked for money for a bridge in my district. I am proud that I did that, because that bridge is needed. But the only way you know about that call is because I just told you. I believe that all these calls and letters by members should be made public. It’s perfectly legitimate for the public to ask questions about earmarks, but you can’t do that if you don’t know about them.”
From 2007 to 2009, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah)requested earmarks worth more $1.5 million for Weber State University in Ogden. Subsequent to those requests but before $1.25 million of them were ultimately secured, the university hired the congressman’s son Shule Bishop as a lobbyist. He serves as director of government relations. The congressman said the earmarks to Weber posed no conflict because none were requested when his son worked there and his son lobbies the state legislature, not Congress.
“There is no connection,” Rob Bishop said.
His spokeswoman, Melissa Subbotin, added that the congressman and his staff interact with Weber’s Washington lobbyist, not Shule Bishop.
“The congressman has been working on behalf of Weber State since he was first elected, which far predates his son’s employment there,” Subbotin noted, adding that the congressman has given earmarks to other universities in Utah.
Shule Bishop declined to discuss the earmarks. He referred questions to his supervisor, who said clear lines have been drawn to keep the congressman’s son from lobbying his father.
“I don’t know what they talk about around the dinner table when the congressman is home on the weekends, but we haven’t put him in the position of asking for things from his father,” said Brad Mortensen, who oversees lobbying efforts as Weber’s vice president for university advancement.
He said the university didn’t hire Shule Bishop because of his father’s position.
“The reason we hired Shule was because of the relationships he has in the state Capitol,” Mortensen said. “His father was speaker of the House in the Capitol. He has worked around the Capitol and knows the legislature well.”
Shule Bishop’s job title seems to reflect that he’s in charge of all lobbying efforts, but Mortensen said the state and federal lobbying shops at Weber are kept separate.
“Having the son of a congressman in a government relations role at the state level, that does create some conflicts, so we would try to make sure those discussions were ones where Shule wasn’t the one strategizing or talking to even our federal contract lobbyist, let alone his father’s office,” Mortensen said.
As a result of The Post’s inquiries, Mortensen said Weber plans to change Shule Bishop’s job title, probably to “director of state government relations.”
‘Best for his constituents’
Lawmakers also used their legislative prowess to earmark money to the clients of their lobbyist relatives.
In Chicago, the Lipinski family name carries clout. William O. Lipinski was an influential member of Congress for 22 years, serving on the House Transportation Committee and sending millions of tax dollars back to his congressional district. When Lipinski decided to step down from Congress in 2004, he persuaded Democratic Party leaders to back his son for his seat.
Since joining Congress in 2005, Rep. Daniel Lipinski has continued his father’s tradition of funding projects in Illinois as a member of the same committee. Along the way, the Chicago Democrat has helped to send federal tax dollars to a client of his father’s lobbying practice, Capricorn Communications.
Daniel Lipinski, along with other members of the Illinois congressional delegation, secured $2.5 million in earmarks since taking office for rail projects that are overseen by the Chicago Transit Authority. The CTA is one of William Lipinski’s lobbying clients and has paid the former congressman $766,330.20 in fees since 2007, according to the transit agency. Lipinski’s earmarks for his father’s client were first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times in 2010.
The CTA said in a statement that William Lipinski helps the agency with congressional contacts outside of the Illinois delegation on the House and Senate transportation committees. Other members of the Illinois congressional delegation have also earmarked money for CTA-related projects.
Daniel Lipinski declined to discuss the earmark. Through a spokesman, the lawmaker said he sees nothing improper with the arrangement and didn’t think it was necessary to obtain an opinion about the propriety of the spending from the House Ethics Committee.
“His father does not lobby him on behalf of his clients on transportation or any other issues,” spokesman Nathaniel Zimmer said. “In these, as in other areas, Congressman Lipinski is focused on doing what is best for his constituents.”
Zimmer provided a statement on Daniel Lipinski’s behalf.
“As the most senior Chicago-area member of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Lipinski has helped to secure funding for numerous important local transportation projects that are widely supported by both residents and other elected officials,” the statement said. “That our transportation infrastructure is in serious need of investment is beyond doubt, and every one of these projects fills a critical need.”
Daniel Lipinski filed the required certification with the House Appropriations Committee in April 2009.
“I certify that neither I nor my spouse has any financial interest in this project,” the congressman wrote. Under House rules, Lipinski’s certification did not need to extend to his father.
Between 2005 and 2010, Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) helped secure $21.9 million in earmarks to six clients of Alcalde & Fay, a lobbying firm that employs her daughter, The Post found. During that time, the clients paid the firm more than $1 million in fees to represent them before Congress, records show.
Other earmarks by Brown have been previously reported. She was the sole sponsor of $1.79 million in earmarks to a seventh client, the Community Rehabilitation Center. At the time, her daughter, Shantrel Brown, worked as a lead lobbyist on behalf of the center, the Florida Times-Union reported in 2010.
The earmarks were secured to help finance “substance abuse and mental health programs” at the center and to upgrade a Jacksonville, Fla., strip shopping mall where the center is located, records show. The federal lobbying reports say Shantrel Brown sought “federal funding for substance abuse and mental health programs” from 2008 to 2010.
The congresswoman declined requests for an interview and also declined to respond to written questions about the earmarks. Her chief of staff, Ronnie Simmons, also would not say whether the congresswoman sought an ethics opinion about the propriety of the earmarks.
Shantrel Brown did not return calls or respond to e-mails seeking comment.
Sen. Bill Nelson, a fellow Democrat from Florida, joined Brown as a co-sponsor of a $750,000 earmark for the rehabilitation center in 2010. When he later discovered that Brown’s daughter was a lobbyist for the center, he decided to withdraw his support.
“We try to do our due diligence. The center had the backing of many community leaders,” Nelson spokesman Bryan Gulley told The Post. “But when we learned her daughter was involved in lobbying for the center, that raised enough concerns that we no longer supported the project.”
Washington Post researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this article.