AUGUST 27, 2007
A recently approved House bill that if passed by the U.S. Senate will prevent federal lawmakers from putting spouses and relatives on campaign payrolls is meeting strong resistance in the home state of the Congressman who sponsored the measure because the practice is rampant there.
Congressman Adam Schiff, who represents the Southern California city of Burbank in the U.S. House of Representatives, sponsored the legislation to end the corrupt practice of members of Congress writing big checks from donor funds to their spouses for services.
In fact, Schiff introduced the measure after a fellow Congressman (John Doolittle) got in trouble for paying his wife a commission for campaign contributions she raised. The FBI has launched an investigation into her business, which also did work for convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
If the Senate approves it, the bill would only apply to federal lawmakers, however. Only seven statesâ??including Connecticut, Ohio and Texasâ??have outlawed campaign payments to spouses and relatives, a practice that is widespread in California. Itâ??s no surprise, then, that legislators in the Golden State are strongly opposed to such a measure.
In the last seven years more than 12 California lawmakers have paid $1.12 million in campaign money raised by special interests to spouses, children and the companies that employed them. They include state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who used $357,000 of campaign money to pay a consulting firm operated by his son and Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman, whose wife has received nearly $70,000 from five campaign committees.
Others include State Senator Dean Florezâ??s $178,000 payment to his wife, Assemblyman Bill Mazeâ??s $30,000 payment to his wifeâ??s consulting firm, State Senator Patricia Wigginsâ?? $31,000 payment to her husband and Senator Joe Simitianâ??s $95,000 payment to his wifeâ??s firm.
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