GOP-backed bill would ban politicians from paying their families
- Republican Representative Pat Fallon introduced a bill that would prevent politicians from paying family members for campaign services.
- Nine other Republican lawmakers are behind the Integrity of the Family Act to reform elections.
- Conservatives and Liberals have employed family members over the years.
A new bill aims to prevent politicians from dipping into their campaign funds to pay family members for campaign services.
Introduced by Republican Rep. Pat Fallon of Texas and co-sponsored by nine other GOP lawmakers, the Family Integrity to Reform Elections Act (FIRE) Prohibit any federal candidate from paying immediate family members for campaign services. Campaigns would be required to report any payments made to immediate family members, including spouses, parents, children, siblings and their domestic partners.
“Current campaign finance law has allowed millions of dollars to flow out of campaigns and into the bank accounts of a candidate’s family member with little evidence of what they are actually contributing,” he said. Fallon said on Twitter.
-Representing. Pat Fallon (@RepPatFallon) June 13, 2022
Currently, there is no need to alert the bipartisan Federal Election Commission or other government entity when someone on a campaign payroll is a member of the family. Indeed, according to regulations stated by the FEC, it is legal for lawmakers to compensate family members as long as they “provide bona fide services to the campaign” and are not paid “in excess of fair market value.”
Should the bill pass into law — unlikely, given its lack of Democratic sponsors in a Democratic-controlled Congress — the penalties would be severe. Any candidate found guilty of breaking the law would be fined $100,000 per violation or 200% of the compensation paid to family members – whichever is greater – or a maximum of two years imprisonment.
Family members appearing on a Congressional campaign payroll has long been a bipartisan phenomenon.
In 2012, 32 members of Congress paid their loved ones more than $2 million in campaign funds during the election cycle, USA Today reported. In 2017, The Hill Reported that more than a dozen lawmakers paid family members from campaign accounts. And one 2020 analysis by OpenSecrets found that at least 14 members of Congress — nine Democrats and four Republicans — paid more than $15,000 each to family members on their reelection committees.
One of the most notable campaign money scandals of recent years has involved the family.
Rep. Republican Duncan Hunter of California pleaded guiltyin 2019 for stealing campaign money from his campaign account and using it for personal gain. Hunter’s wife, Margaret, was his campaign manager at the time and was also involved and pleaded guilty at similar loads.
Donald Trump, then President pardoned Duncan Hunter end of 2020 – before serving his prison sentence. Margaret Hunter was intended to serve a home confinement sentence – until Trump also pardoned her soon after.
Fallon, a freshman lawmaker, is no stranger to financial ethics scandals, albeit of a different kind: the House Ethics Committee is investigating him for allegedly violating the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 after not disclosing properly dozens of personal stock trades worth millions of dollars.