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Republicans Unveil Bill to Prevent Campaign Funds From Going To Candidate’s Immediate Family

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


California Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters has paid her daughter over $1.2 million in total over the last decade and it’s all been legal. Now, Republicans are aiming to put a ban on lawmakers from putting family members on the campaign payroll after many prominent Democrats have been called out over the practice.

Republican Texas Rep. Pat Fallon has introduced legislation called the Family Integrity to Reform Elections Act, which would prevent campaign funds from going to a candidate’s immediate family. The bill, if passed, would also make the candidate directly responsible for knowingly violating the provision.

“The Family Integrity to Reform Elections (FIRE) Act is a critical step to reducing nepotistic practices in American campaigns. Allowing direct family members to be on the take of campaigns must come to an end. For example, Maxine Waters, the worst perpetrator, has given her daughter over $1.1 million in campaign funds. This is utterly egregious, and I will not stand by as the integrity of our elections is further diminished,” Fallon said.

The bill would not be good for Waters.

“Maxine Waters [paid] $1.1 million to her daughter from campaign funds,” Fallon said. “Ilhan Omar, $2.9 million to her husband from campaign funds. James Clyburn, over $200,000 to multiple family members from his campaign.”

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“Waters’ campaign shelled out $8,000 in September to Karen Waters, a surplus to the over $1 million her daughter has raked in from the campaign since 2003, according to Federal Election Commission filings. But scrutiny over lawmakers paying family members with campaign money has heightened as of late, with some Republicans aiming to bar the practice through legislation,” the Washinton Examiner reported.

“The over $1 million given to Karen Waters, including the $8,000, has been for slate-mailer operations. Karen Waters has also been paid for things such as “administrative services,” “fundraising,” and “rally expenses,” according to filings. Waters came under fire a few months ago for paying daughter another $24,000 in campaign cash during the most recent quarter,” the outlet added.

“Karen Waters, who has been organizing slate-mailing operations to bolster her mother’s re-election for nearly two decades, and her company, Progressive Connections, have received more than $1.2 million since 2003 for campaign services, including ‘slate mailer management’ fees and ‘campaign managing services,'” Fox News reported.

It’s legal for federal lawmakers to employ family members on campaigns, but the practice is frowned upon by ethics experts.

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Last year it was reported that Waters had funneled more than $1 million from her various campaigns to her daughter Karen Waters.

The issue has become so common in Congress that another Republican introduced a similar bill called the OMAR Act, which would increase federal oversight of familial campaign contributions, including for spouses.

“Rep. Tom Tiffany Introduces OMAR Act To Prohibit Campaign Compensation For Candidate Spouses – Representative Tom Tiffany (R-WI) recently introduced legislation that would restrict the ability of federal candidates to use committee campaign funds to pay compensation to spouses,” Dentons reported.

“It would also require any payments made to spouses or immediate family members to be disclosed along with regular campaign finance disclosure reports. The bill, H.R. 2452, is similar to a bipartisan proposal introduced in 2007 by Representative Adam Smith (D-CA) that ultimately did not pass. Rep. Tiffany argues that this measure will help restore public confidence in Congress and prevent politicians from pocketing their campaign funds,” the outlet added.

“Members of Congress should not be able to enrich themselves by paying their spouses with campaign money. It’s crazy this is even legal in the first place. This bill puts an end to this despicable practice and is a common-sense way to restore trust in government and ensure people don’t profit off running for Congress,” said Wisconsin GOP Rep. Mike Gallagher.

“The American people want honesty and transparency in campaign finance, and a start to this is ensuring members of Congress don’t funnel campaign money to members of their family. The OMAR Act is a good step in preventing any potential conflicts of interest, such as a Member paying their husband’s consulting firm $2.8 million. Public officials should always act in the best interest of their constituents, and this bill will help show the American people we’re serious about enforcing this principle,” said South Carolina Republican Rep. Nancy Mace.

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