Dick Morris Proposes Banning Some of Congress’s Family Businesses


While it’s a little odd see Dick Morris, the former hired gun political advisor of both Bill Clinton and Trent Lott, show an interest in congressional ethics, it’s worth noting that among the reforms he proposes (indeed, the top one on his list) is banning campaigns and Political Action Committees from hiring family members of members of Congress. Morris has a pretty long list that includes not just spouses, not just children, but also brothers, cousins, nephews and an in-law:

Those who have hired spouses and family members include: Reps. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), wife and two brothers; Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), husband’s law firm; Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), wife and step-daughter; John Doolittle (R-Calif.), wife; Ralph Hall (R-Texas), daughter-in-law; Pete Stark (D-Calif.), wife; Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), wife; Ron Lewis (R-Ky.), wife; Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), wife; Jim Costa (D-Calif.), cousin; Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), wife; Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), nephew; Chris Cannon (R-Utah), three daughters; Lincoln Davis (D-Tenn.), sister-in-law and daughter; Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), wife; Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.), daughter; Bob Filner (D-Calif.), wife; J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.), wife; Bob Inglis (R-S.C.), wife; Elton Gallegly (R-Calif.), wife; Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), wife; John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), wife; Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), wife; Ed Pastor (D-Ariz.), nephew; John Shadegg (R-Ariz.), son; and Howard Berman (D-Calif.), brother Michael’s political consulting firm; Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), son; and Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), son and daughter during vice presidential race; and ex-Reps. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), wife; and Tom DeLay (R-Texas), wife and daughter.

Worth clipping and saving. Number two on Morris’s list is banning family members from lobbying Congress, also a worthy idea. But I would add that there needs to be some kind of disclosure for adult children — which the stories about Rep. Silvestre Reye’s advocacy for a contractor that hired his children so richly demonstrate:

Reyes has been a key backer of the system and its contractor, International Microwave Corp. Shortly after its 1999 contract award, the firm hired Rebecca Reyes to serve as a liaison to what was then the Immigration and Naturalization Service. She ultimately became IMC’s vice president for contracts. IMC also hired her brother, Silvestre Reyes Jr., as a technician on the program, known as the Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System, or ISIS.

I wouldn’t object to any of the other items on Morris’ list, although I think all of them could go farther.