CREW: 67 Senators Used Campaign Funds to Enrich Family, $1.3M to Relatives, $2.6M to Related Entities

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington: “Senators collectively paid relatives nearly $1.3 million in salaries and fees and paid family businesses, employers, or associated nonprofits nearly $2.6 million. Twenty senators claimed reimbursements from their campaigns and leadership PACs for themselves and their relatives exceeding $25,000 apiece. Several senators also earmarked or directed money to organizations affiliated with their family members.”

“Key findings of the report include:

  • 19 senators (5 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 13 Republicans) who paid family members through their campaign committees or political action committees;
  • 30 senators (10 Democrats and 20 Republicans) who have relatives who lobby or are employed in government affairs;
  • 26 senators (12 Democrats and 14 Republicans) who have paid a family business, employer, or associated nonprofit;
  • 7 senators (5 Democrats and 2 Republicans) who used their campaign funds to contribute to or pay a family member’s campaign;
  • 3 senators (1 Democrat and 2 Republicans) who charged interest on loans they made personally to their own campaigns; and
  • 11 senators (6 Democrats and 5 Republicans) who earmarked or directed money to a family business, employer, or associated nonprofit.”

The report has been challenged by some of the named Senators alleging inaccuracies.

Washington Times: “Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, rang up the highest tab, with $258,556 in salary being paid over several years to Benjamin James Burr, who is his wife’s nephew.

“But Lee spokesman Brian Phillips said CREW had misreported information and condemned the group’s report. He pointed out that Senate ethics rules specifically do not cover payments to nieces and nephews who are only related by marriage.”

“Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican and possible 2016 GOP contender, paid Jesse Benton, his niece’s husband, $172,417 in salary for several years of work as a political strategy consultant, according to CREW. Mr. Paul and his leadership PAC also paid a combined $4.8 million to a media production company for which Mr. Paul’s wife Kelley worked as a consultant.

“In an email to The Washington Times, Paul spokesman Sergio Gor called CREW’s report “false and inaccurate,” adding that Mr. Benton has not been on any payroll connected to Mr. Paul in more than three years.

‘The numbers in the report are inflated because one of the companies compensated spent large amounts of cash on media buys, not compensation,’ added Brian Darling, senior communications director for Mr. Paul.”


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