Report: Campaign Funds Become 'A Family Affair'; Group Questions Payments to Relatives

Article excerpt

Byline: Chuck Neubauer, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

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-in-law, 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. …