Wednesday, July 25th, 2007 at 1:24 pm in Uncategorized.
Like dozens of other high-ranking Congressional lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, keeps some of his campaign dollars close to home.
Lantos, according to a report released last month by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and Washington, has made $4,000-worth of contributions to family members’ campaigns and paid his grandchildren $56,000 for consulting services. His daughter Katrina Swett and son-in-law Richard Swett, a former New Hampshire congressman and ambassador to Denmark, are also registered as lobbyists.
The report found that nearly 100 members of the House of Representatives who are chairs or ranking minority members of House committees have used their positions over the past five years to benefit family members, including providing jobs to spouses.
On Monday, the House passed a bipartisan bill that bans lawmakers from paying their spouses for campaign work, according to the Washington Post. The measure would not bar other family members from working on a lawmaker’s campaign but would require disclosure.
It is illegal for members of Congress to hire family members as employees on their official staff or to convert campaign funds for personal use. It is not illegal for representatives to hire their family members through their campaign or political action committees, though ethics advocates have begun to question whether the practice constitutes good government.
According to the report, Lantos’ campaign committee made a $2,000 contribution toward his daughter Katrina’s run for Congress in 2002, and another $1,000 for her run in 2004. Both were unsuccessful, but Katrina is aiming for the U.S. Senate in 2008. According to the Web site for the Swetts’ consulting firm, Swett Associates, Katrina once worked as campaign director and treasurer for her father as well.
In the 2004 election cycle, Lantos’ campaign committee also gave $1,000 to the Denver City Council campaign for his son-in-law Timber Dick.
Lantos employed two of his grandchildren for consulting services in the 2004 election cycle, according to the report. Kimber Tilleman-Dick was paid $41,000 and Tomicah Tilleman-Dick was paid $15,000.
Lynne Weil, Lantos’ spokeswoman, said that Lantos is proud of his grandchildren’s abilities and enjoys spending any amount of time with them. She also pointed out that he was a co-sponsor of Monday’s bill.
“Tom is delighted that his grandkids dedicate so much effort to civic affairs, including political campaigning. If there were anything wrong with paying them for their work, he wouldn’t do it,” Weil wrote in a email. “Tom finds no reason not to take part in the common practice of supporting other campaigns with funds that he has raised – individual races as well as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – and these donations are a matter of public record.”