- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 25, 2012

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul used campaign funds to pay salaries and fees to more members of his own family than any other lawmaker in the House, according to a recently released report, handing over more than $300,000 during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles.

The Committee to Re-elect Ron Paul paid salaries to his daughter, his grandson, his daughter’s mother-in-law, his granddaughter, his grandson-in-law and “another relative,” said a report released Thursday by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). In addition, according to the report, campaign funds were used to pay his brother’s accounting firm more than $48,000.

Campaign funds and money from Mr. Paul’s political action committee, Liberty Pac, also were used to reimburse Mr. Paul for travel, gifts, flags, food and “unspecified expenses,” the report said, adding that Liberty PAC also paid his daughter a salary.

But Mr. Paul is not alone in helping family members, according to the 344-page CREW report, titled “Family Affair,” which said a “shocking 248 House members used their positions to financially benefit themselves or family members.”

In addition to putting relatives on their campaign payrolls, House members also used campaign funds as their personal piggy banks, charging for overseas trips, making donations to charities with ties to relatives and paying for baby sitters.

“This report shows lawmakers still haven’t learned it is wrong to trade on their positions as elected leaders to benefit themselves and their families,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. The report said millions of dollars “flow through campaign accounts with little oversight and sporadic scrutiny from the toothless FEC (Federal Election Commission).”

Mr. Paul was one of 82 members — 40 Democrats and 42 Republicans — who paid family members salaries or fees mainly through their campaign funds, which is legal if they are paid a fair market rate for the work.

Gary Howard , press secretary for the Paul campaign, dismissed the CREW report, calling it a “sad attempt … to grab cheap headlines.” He said Mr. Paul’s campaigns have raised more than $100 million during the last five years and employed hundreds if not thousands of people.

“Family members have received a tiny fraction of one percent of jobs and salaries,” he said.

Lawmakers listed in the report included:

• Rep. Aaron Schock, Illinois Republican, who reimbursed himself from his campaign fund for more than $150,000 in expenses, including $30,000 in hotel bills. The lodgings ranged from the Hampton Inn to expensive five-star resorts in Miami and Athens.

A Schock spokesman called the Athens bill a “mistake,” adding that the congressman paid the money back to the campaign.

• Rep. Robert E. Andrews, New Jersey Democrat, spent more than $9,000 in campaign funds on a luxury trip with his wife and two daughters to the wedding in Scotland of a campaign adviser; and used nearly $100,000 in campaign funds to support theaters and arts organizations where his teenage daughter is an aspiring actress and singer.

Fran Tagmire, the congressman’s campaign manager, said Mr. Andrews reimbursed the expenses of the Scotland trip, but “proudly supported arts organizations” and his daughter’s activities are “completely separate and independent from these expenditures.”

• Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, used campaign funds to reimburse himself more than $5,000 in baby-sitting and child care expenses during the 2010 election cycle. His wife was reimbursed $1,515 for baby- sitting, travel, gifts and meetings.

Mr. Chaffetz’s office did not respond to calls for comment.

• Rep. Timothy J. Walz, Minnesota Democrat, was reimbursed $15,840 for travel, baby-sitting and child care costs, food and mileage expenses during the 2008 election cycle.

Mr. Walz also did not respond for comment.

• Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Texas Democrat, paid reimbursements of more than $400,000 from his political funds to himself and his niece, Veronica Cintron, who runs his campaigns, for travel expenses, office supplies, food and campaign gifts. He also reimbursed Ms. Cintron for charitable donations.

Mr. Reyes defended the reimbursements, saying his campaign followed the law and that as a former law enforcement officer and Vietnam veteran, “I take transparency and accountability seriously.” He also defended paying his niece $175,550 over the four years in the study, saying she worked “round-the-clock helping me run my campaign.”

• Rep. Michael F. Doyle, Pennsylvania Democrat, used $1,100 in campaign funds to pay his son for live stunt shows at campaign picnics. The son’s website says he does fire performing, escape artistry, stilt walking and acrobatics.

Mr. Doyle did not respond for comment.