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Democrats Smell Blood In The Water - Oops! Some Of It Is Theirs!

Tom DeLay (R-TX) is under fire by the left for hiring his wife and daughter to work for his PAC. Apparently they have been paid nearly $500,000 over the last four years. In an April 14, 2005, LA Times article staff writers Richard Simon, Chuck Neubauer and Rone Tempest report:

DeLay, a Texas Republican, has defended the payments to his wife, Christine, and his daughter, Danielle DeLay Ferro, saying his family members provided valuable service to his campaign. They received $473,801 over the last two election cycles, records show.

It is reported in the same article that Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the liberal lip and paragon of virtue from California, also believes in lining the family coffers on the public's dime, yet there is nary a word of criticism from her Congressional colleagues reported anywhere in the MSM.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) paid her son, a lawyer, $130,000 over four years to run her political action committee, according to her campaign filings.

In an article written last June, 2004, by another LA Times staff writer, Chuck Neubauer, it was reported that not only are family members running PAC's, but family members are also lobbying Congress and getting paid handsomely to do so.

Like many sisters, Tanya Rahall talks to her brother often. But unlike most sisters, she gets paid handsomely to do it.

Rahall makes $15,000 a month lobbying Congress for the tiny Arab country of Qatar. And the person she frequently lobbies is Rep. Nick J. Rahall II (D-W.Va.), her older brother and one of Qatar's biggest champions in Washington.

and this:

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has called for a review of ethics rules for lobbyists, following stories detailing legislation he sponsored that benefited clients of his sons and son-in-law.

And there is so much more!

Evan Lehmann, of the MediaNews Group, Washington Bureau, reports in Vermont's Bennington Banner on the lone socialist/communist in Congress, Rep. Bernard Sanders of Vermont:

Rep. Bernard Sanders used campaign donations to pay his wife and stepdaughter more than $150,000 for campaign-related work since 2000, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Jane O'Meara Sanders, his wife, received $91,020 between 2002 and 2004 for "consultation" and for negotiating the purchase of television and radio time-slots for Sanders' advertisements, according to records and interviews.

Approximately $61,000 of that was "pass through" money that was used to pay media outlets for advertising time, Jane O'Meara Sanders said in an interview. The rest, about $30,000, she kept as payment for her services, she said.

Carina Driscoll, daughter to Jane O'Meara Sanders and stepdaughter to the lawmaker, earned $65,002 in "wages" between 2000 and 2004, campaign records show.

And the reports continue:

Eamon Javers reporting for MSN Money, August 8, 2003, wrote:

Lobbyist Chet Lott reported around $330,000 in billings from his clients in 2002. He lives in Kentucky, where he's owned several Domino's pizza franchises and plays on a polo team. He also happens to be the son of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi.

There is a list attached to this article detailing relatives of high profile Congressmen who lobby, including Ruth Harkin, who is married to Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), and David Lugar, son of Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN).

SFGate.com has another list of lawmakers with relatives on their congressional or campaign staffs.

Of course, one of the most notable lobbyists on K Street is former Senate minority leader (and majority leader, at different times) Tom Daschle's lovely wife, former Miss Kansas, Linda Hall Daschle. A lobbyist since 1997, Ms. Daschle works for Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC (headed by former GOP Senate leader and ex–Reagan chief of staff Howard Baker and ranked by The National Law Journal in 2004 as one of the 10 fastest growing law firms in the U.S.) as a lobbyist for the airline industry. But because former Senator Daschle (D-SD) has steadfastly refused to release his income tax returns, it is difficult to know to what extent the family coffers were filled while he was trudging through the halls of Congress for a measly $171,900 per annum. David Freddoso writing in WorldNetDaily reported in May 2002:

Clients for whom Mrs. Daschle is listed as a lobbyist have paid her firm approximately $5.8 million since 1997 – although that number is also only a rough estimate, since the federal lobbying law requires that lobbying firms estimate their fees from each client to the nearest $20,000 every six months. On their 2001 financial disclosure form, the Daschles reported that their publicly traded assets (primarily mutual funds) were worth between $197,000 and $730,000.

Interestingly, Mrs. Daschle is not only an important asset to her customers because of her expertise but is valued for her access to insider information as this quote from her employer's press release notes:

While Linda's experience and effectiveness are important to her clients, there is another reason they value her service – her frequent reporting of insider intelligence. Linda scours the news coming out of Washington each day for developments of concern to her clients and reports to them on what she learns. "We put a premium on keeping our clients informed," she says. "We do not want our clients to be caught by surprise by something that the federal government might do."
Eamon Javers, from the previously linked article in MSN Money, August 8, 2003, also wrote this about the Daschles:
Nonetheless, her work as a lobbyist means big companies with business on Capitol Hill can legally put money into Tom Daschle's bank account.

It gets even more complicated. Tom Daschle's daughter-in-law is also a registered lobbyist. Married to the senator’s son Nathan, Jill Gimmel Daschle is a political fundraiser by profession: She served as finance director for the 2000 re-election campaign of Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and worked for former Democratic New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen's 2002 senate campaign.

She has her own small company, JD Consulting. And through her connection to the political firm Sullivan & Baldick, she worked as a lobbyist for Northwest Airlines (NWAC, news, msgs) and Freddie Mac (FRE, news, msgs).

She's not making a career out of lobbying, and she doesn’t intend to lobby next year. Should Jill Daschle be required to disclose her clients and her relationship to the senator? And should she be prohibited from lobbying her father-in-law’s office? As it stands, she doesn't have to reveal the family connection, and there’s no prohibition on lobbying him, although the senator’s office says that she hasn’t.

Daschle was defeated in the 2004 election but we won't need to worry about him applying for unemployment benefits anytime soon. Tommy, as his friends call him, has been recruited to go to work for the prestigious firm of Alston & Bird as a special adviser in the law firm's legislative and public policy group. It should be noted that he was recruited to the firm by former Senator Bob Dole, who, at 81, uses his name and influence to earn somewhere between $800,000 and $1,000,000 per year, and whose wife is Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC). Perhaps Tommy will now be able to help his wife with the mortgage on their $2 million home on Washington’s tony Foxhall Road.

In an article published March 14, 2005, in the Washington Post, staff writer Christopher Lee reported:

The revolving door is just spinning out of control these days," said Craig Holman, legislative representative for Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group.

Holman said that in the 1970s only about 3 percent of retiring members of Congress wound up in K Street law and lobbying firms. These days, the figure is more like 32 percent, he said, in part fueled by the dramatic increase in pay for such positions.

The point is that there are many members of Congress - Republicans, Democrats, and even a Socialist - who are enriching their families through the power and prestige of their elected office. Our elected officials are hiring their family members to manage political campaigns; manage PAC's; and lobby the halls of Congress while they slave away as public servants. Then, when the Congressmen retire, they parlay their influence into huge golden parachutes for themselves. I wouldn't mind seeing this cleaned up, but to single out Tom DeLay for hiring a couple relatives is certainly selective persecution.

Posted by Rick | April 14, 2005 04:41 AM

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