Thursday, April 14, 2005

All in the Family - Pols Spend Millions on Family Salaries

this is an audio post - click to play

Politics. The people's business. Well, sometimes.

Tom DeLay likely has some sympathetic ears at the dinner table as he complains about his mounting ethical problems - it's his wife's job. Literally. His daughter's too. As the Lexington Herald Reader reports, DeLay's wife and daughter made $500,000 since 2001 working on DeLay's campaigns.

As Richard Simon, Chuck Neubauer, and Rone Tempest report in The Los Angeles Times, DeLay is not alone in dragging his fundraising spoils home to split with the family. At least 39 members of Congress have hired a member of their immediate family to do campaign work. Members of the House of Representatives have doled out some $3 million to family in the last 4 years.

The practice of hiring family is not unethical, at least according to the ethics rules that Congress has written to guide itself. But, as Congressman Ray LaHood of Illinois says, it stinks: "Instinctively, it doesn't pass the smell test for me, and I don't think it would for my constituents."

A look at either article reveals that the practice is bipartisan, and isn't limited to federal politicians. Oakland pol and President of the California Senate Don Perata, for example, has paid his son more than $700,000 since 1999. If there's one thing the elected officials from the two parties can agree on, it's that there better be room at the trough for their families. Blood is thicker than slop.

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