Lobbying Reform Doesn't Impact Congressional Campaign Family-for-Hire Rules

As Democrats pledge to clean up Washington, D.C., the case of one Georgia congressman's questionable campaign expenditures hearkens back to an early target of Democratic anger — House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Democratic Rep. David Scott of Georgia is under scrutiny for hiring four of his family members and paying them between $52,000 and $344,000 in each two-year election cycle.

On top of that, his wife, who was put in charge of his tax filings, seems to have messed up their returns and gotten the Scotts into a heap of trouble with the IRS, according to reports.

Scott's hiring of his family conjures up memories of DeLay's paying nearly $500,000 to his wife and daughter for their work on his re-election campaigns.

As it turns out, the hirings are legal under election law — as long as the family is doing an appropriate job and getting paid a fair market price for their services. With that provision intact even after the campaign finance reforms of 2003, members of Congress have continued to line the family pockets.

According to an April 2005 article in The Los Angeles Times, at that time at least 39 members of Congress had been paying their spouses, children or other relatives from campaign funds, or had hired companies in which a family member had a financial interest.

The payroll expenditures for family members working during the 2002 and 2004 election cycles had reached $3 million despite the fact that lawmakers may not put relatives on their congressional payrolls.

Click here to read The Los Angeles Times story on family members working for congressional campaigns.

As for lobbying rules passed by the House on Thursday, little has changed for family members. Under the new rules, spouses may not lobby their congressional partners and lobbyists must disclose campaign contributions raised by family.