Republican members of Congress want to stop their colleagues from including family members on their campaign payrolls after several top Democratic lawmakers were called out for the practice.
The Family Integrity to Reform Elections (FIRE) Act which was introduced on June 13 by Representative Pat Fallon (R-TX) would prohibit any candidate running for federal office from paying immediate family members for any campaign services.
In a statement Fallon told The Post, “Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) paid $1.1 million to her daughter from campaign funds. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) paid her husband $2.9 from campaign funds. And Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) paid over $200,000 to multiple family members from his campaign.”
Fallon added, “The numbers speak for themselves. Americans are sick of politicians abusing their voters’ hard-earned money. These modern-day spoils systems must end. My bill shines light on shady campaign finance practices while punishing those who take advantage of these funds to enrich their families.”
At present, it is legal for legislators to employ their family members to work on campaigns. However, Federal Election Commission regulations bar paying salaries to relatives of candidates unless they “provide bona fide services to the campaign” and that the salary represents “fair market value for the services provided.”
The legislation, first examined by The Post, would expand the ban to include any political committee “established, maintained or controlled by a candidate or person holding federal office” barring any sitting legislator from paying a family member for working on his or her campaign.
The Fallon bill would additionally require campaigns to disclose any payments they make to members of a candidate’s immediate family.
Relatives who are subject to the proposed ban would include spouses, parents, siblings, grandparents, grandchildren and domestic partners, along with the spouses of campaign committee members.
Should the bill become law, any candidate who is in violation of the ban would face a $100,000 fine for each violation or double the amount paid family members, whichever is greater, and/or up to two years in prison.
The legislation, which is co-sponsored by Representatives Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Byron Donalds (R-FL), Pete Sessions (R-TX), Jake Ellzey (R-TX), Randy Weber (R-TX), Brian Babin (R-TX), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Kat Cammack (R-FL), and Troy Nehls (R-TX), is facing a strong climb in Congress as both Democrat and Republican candidates are known for hiring immediate family members and paying them for their services.
In 2020, a government transparency group OpenSecrets revealed that more than a dozen current members of Congress, five Republicans and nine Democrats, paid out at least $16,000 in salary to family members.
“Campaign funds should never under any circumstances be used to enrich a candidate or their family. Voters deserve to feel confident that their public officials are running to represent them, not line their own pockets,” Garbarino told The Post in a statement.
Garbarino added, “This legislation will shine a light on campaign finance and hold candidates for public office to a higher standard on par with the public trust they wield.”
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