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Tag Archive: Family Members of Members of Congress

FBI Fishes for Pork in Stevens Investigation

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The ongoing federal investigation of Sen. Ted Stevens is exploring the Alaska lawmakers pattern, thoroughly documented by Chuck Neubauer, Judy Pasternak and Richard T. Cooper of the Los Angeles Times, of earmarking taxpayer dollars to organizations (among them Alaskan seafood producers) that hired Stevens' son, Ben, as a consultant. Matt Apuzzo of the Associated Press has the latest developments:

WASHINGTON - Federal authorities investigating Sen. Ted Stevens are trolling the Alaska fishing industry for evidence of whether the powerful Republican pushed seafood legislation that benefited his lobbyist son... Industry officials and attorneys involved in the case, who spoke on condition of anonymity because authorities have told them not to discuss the probe, said investigators are asking about federal legislation that directly or indirectly aided the senator's son, Ben, who is a state lobbyist and politician. The legislation was passed as earmarks, brief spending items that lawmakers tack onto bills to steer federal money to pet projects. Ted Stevens, an unapologetic user of earmarks, is the biggest champion for Alaska's $2 billion-a-year seafood industry.
Details of the earmarks under investigation--including what Ben Stevens did (or didn't do) for his fees--are below the fold; it's worth noting that because Stevens fils was a state lawmaker, most of these payments were made public on his personal financial disclosure. A bunch of Ben Stevens' forms are available from the Center for Public Integrity, here--just scroll down toward the bottom of the page.

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House Moves to Limit Family Business

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The Washington Post reports on a bipartisan effort in the House to ban a practice that Sunlight and citizen journalists investigated in 2006: How many members of Congress were using campaign contributions to pay their spouses, in essence putting special interest money into the family budget?

In the latest ripple of an ethics spat gripping Congress, the House yesterday passed a bipartisan bill that bans lawmakers from paying their spouses for campaign work. The measure, passed on a voice vote, was sponsored by Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Michael N. Castle (R-Del.). It would not bar other family members from working on a lawmaker's campaign but would require disclosure.
Currently, spouses can work for campaigns provided that they charge fair market value for their services. The measure still has to passed by the Senate.

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Backsliding on Earmark Reform?

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Robert Novak suggests in a column today one subject in divided Washington that gets bipartisan support:

[Sen. Harry] Reid is also working behind the scenes with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to undermine earmark transparency and prevent open debate on spending proposals... ...Reid is plotting to strip anti-earmark transparency from the final version of ethics legislation passed by the Senate and House, with tacit support from Republican senators and the GOP leadership.
I'm shocked. Also not surprised. Interestingly, Novak reports that the issue that's rankling lawmakers is a provision that would "bar earmarks benefiting a senator's family members."

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National Journal: 63 Current Members of Congress Have Relatives with Ties to Lobbying

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In what looks like the most authoritative list to date, National Journal reporter Marisa Katz identified 33 Senators and 30 Representatives "who have lobbied or consulted on government relations at the federal or the state level in recent years" in the magazine's March 31, 2007, issue. Regrettably, it doesn't appear that the excellent story that goes with that finding, or the chart, is online at National Journal's site. Among Senators, Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Harry Reid, D-Nev., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, had two relatives with connections, while Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., had two and Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., was the lone member of Congress to have three.

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Dick Morris Proposes Banning Some of Congress’s Family Businesses

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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.

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Family Business — 3rd Update

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The basic research is done, and before I begin making the earnest effort to digest the raw results, let me first thank all who participated--especially Beezling, who topped his prolific performance on round one with an incredible turn on round two--he did 319 this time around, doing by far the bulk of the entries. Get that man a fedora and a press pass! More information soon...

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Family Business — Second Update

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Nearly 7 p.m. Sunday, and we're through 296 members and 41 states--pretty incredible. To all who've joined this effort, once again let me offer a heartfelt thank you. Some preliminary numbers as we move toward the final leg, but first let me point out that these a). haven't been verified and b). need to be looked at more closely to figure out what they mean. So keep those caveats in mind. Citizen journalists have tentatively identified $480,029 in campaign expenditures going from a House member's campaign to a firms that employs that member's spouse in the current election cycle. Citizen journalists have also tentatively found that organizations for which House members' spouses work have landed a total of $2,788,663,441--that's $2.7 billion--in federal contracts in 2005 (the last full year for which information is available) and $2,649,935,942--$2.6 billion--in federal grants in 2004 (again, the last year for which we have complete data).

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Family Business — First Update

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Wow. We're a little past the four hour mark, and we're through 24 states and 188 members. I'll continue to keep an eye on progress tonight, but this has once again been an incredible effort. Thanks to all who are making round two as successful as the first go round!

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Is Congress A Family Business, Round Two

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It's your last chance to investigate the 109th Congress before Election Day! Who else besides Julie Doolittle has a company that works for her spouse's campaign? How many federal contractors employ spouses of members of Congress? Have nonprofits that receive part of their funding from congressional appropriations hired spouses of members? It's up to you to find out! Round Two of "Is Congress a Family Business" is now online! Thanks to our too modest Web design genius, it's still as slick and user friendly as round one.

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House Family Business: Past the Half Way Point!

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Citizen journalists have now investigated 258 members of Congress, and tentatively identified a dozen spouses who've been cumulativel paid $455,539. Incredible. A huge thanks to all who've participated--whether you've done one, two or dozens. A special thanks to KCinDC, who's been an indefatigable machine, and to VaAntiRepublican, who's chipped in a couple of dozen. And remember, this is only phase one of a multipronged investigation into family members of members of Congress who work in the political system as fundraisers, for political action committtees, or as lobbyists,

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