Patterico's Pontifications

4/16/2005

The Power of the Jump™: Hiding Democrats with Family Members on the Payroll

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Politics — Patterico @ 1:38 pm



(Note: “The Power of the Jump”™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, documenting examples of the Los Angeles Times’s use of its back pages to hide information that its editors don’t want you to see.)

The L.A. Times ran a front-page article this week about nepotism in Congress. The article contains new information about large payments to family members by several prominent Democrats, including Barbara Boxer:

[F]ive of the top six congressional families in The Times’ analysis of two election cycles were Californians. The campaign fund of Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) paid $251,853 to her husband’s firm, according to the candidate’s campaign filings. She was followed by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-North Hollywood), $205,500; Rep. Bob Filner (D-San Diego), $154,504; and Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), $152,362.

Altogether, at least 10 lawmakers in the 53-member California House delegation have hired family members, according to records and interviews.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Hayward) paid his wife, Deborah, $119,000 from his campaign fund over the last four years to serve as his campaign manager, records show. In the last election, she earned $2,400 a month as campaign manager and was awarded a $2,400 bonus.

“It’s just a matter of paying her for the professional job she was doing,” Stark said.

In addition, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) paid her son, a lawyer, $130,000 over four years to run her political action committee, according to her campaign filings.

But guess what? This new information was buried on page A18. And who was the only politician named on Page A1? Why, that would be Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, whose payments to family members are old news:

The practice is not illegal but has come under new scrutiny following reports that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s wife and daughter had received hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2001 from his political action and congressional campaign committees.

That pretty much fits normal news practice, right? New information on A18, old news on A1.

(Thanks to Hugh Hewitt for noting this first.)

P.S. Why in the world doesn’t the L.A. Times publish the hard data online so that readers can see for themselves exactly which lawmakers have been discovered to have relatives on the payroll, and how much money is involved? Is there any excuse for not doing this?

16 Responses to “The Power of the Jump™: Hiding Democrats with Family Members on the Payroll”

  1. Famous Texan with son on the payroll, Sen. Ralph Yarborough, was often cited by Drew Pearson (later column became Jack Anderson’s) as grossly practicing nepotism. At the time Richard Yarborough, his legislative assistant, got about $30,000, and having lived much of his life in the political arena was extremely effective as well as being a terrific lawyer.

    Sen. Yarborough lost his bid for reelection having broken ranks to vote for civil rights. His nepotistic ways were always front page in reactionary press in Texas. Guess it depends on where your sympathies lie. Yes, I agree with you.

    Ruth (72b4d8)

  2. P.S. Why in the world doesn’t the L.A. Times publish the hard data online so that readers can see for themselves exactly which lawmakers have been discovered to have relatives on the payroll, and how much money is involved? Is there any excuse for not doing this?

    Of course there is, Patterico: because it doesn’t fit the story.

    The story is that Tom DeLay is uniquely corrupt and evil. Why should the Times allow the opposition to confuse matters by participating in the discussion?

    Dafydd

    Dafydd (df2f54)

  3. If the pols are not spending public money – and they’re not; IIRC, this is all money privately owned by the Dems and the Reps – then it’s really a non-issue.

    Kinda underhanded of anyone to try to make it an issue for just one side, tho.

    Dear LAT, if you read this: I’m a non-partisan observer, a Canadian with absolutely no vested interest in these issues at all, just a desire to learn the facts. And I can see clearly the bias in your reporting. Your recent drop in public credibility has nothing to do with style, everything to do with substance.

    ras (f9de13)

  4. Checking In On Friends
    The time has come again to look in on those who are so kind as to link to me

    The View From The Nest (5d7fe1)

  5. It’s not “private” money – it’s campaign donations – which are supposed to be used for – you know – campaigns. The real issue is that, by paying their wives, they get to increase their personal income using campaign funds.

    antimedia (799faa)

  6. antimedia,

    It’s still their money to spend as they see fit. If they abuse the privilege – well, that’s a matter between them and their donors.

    I.E. Are those same donors getting reasonable bang for their buck, based on their candidates’ performance? That’s up to the donors themselves to decide, not me, not you, and not the LAT.

    Personally, I wouldn’t mind if I felt that the family members were earnig their money by being good at their jobs and were being paid roughly the same as an arms-length person hired for the same job would be. That, too, is usually a judgement call, one properly performed by the donor. I’ve seen people throw their money at many causes and projects I disagree with, not just in politics. Their money, none of my biz.

    ras (f9de13)

  7. These guys aren’t dumb; they literally choose to make liberals like themselves, who they talk to at lunch, feel good. That is more important to them than presenting facts in a way that’s not insulting, to those readers who just want to know what is going on.

    They don’t care if fewer people read the paper, and that’s why circulation is down 5.5%.

    Ladainian (91b3b2)

  8. Wow, now there’s a roundabout antiseptic way to describe bribery.

    … they get to increase their personal income using campaign funds.

    Ladainian (91b3b2)

  9. Patterico’s larger point is right, but this practice is offensive no matter who does it.

    When I donate to someone’s campaign, I expect my money to pay for bumper stickers, yard signs, and phone calls — not “salaries” for the wife and kids.

    Now, I have no doubt that the wife and kids do work on the campaign — but they should do it for free. If you are a political wife or child, it is simply your freakin’ job to spend endless hours at fish fries, campaign rallies, and fundraising dinners.

    We really don’t pay our Congressmen enough, not an amount commensurate with their responsibilities, and this is the one mitigating factor here. But still, this practice is wrong even if everyone does it.

    Joe Schmoe (513acd)

  10. “When I donate to someone’s campaign, I expect my money to pay for bumper stickers, yard signs, and phone calls – not “salaries” for the wife and kids.”

    Unless you expect, you know, to just be bribing the guy.

    actus (0f2616)

  11. ON HYPOCRISY
    It’s rampant. Just rampant….

    Pejmanesque (2ae9b5)

  12. The issue is whether or not the relative or friend acutally performs a service that merits the amount of money he or she receives.

    Stu707 (b13883)

  13. Just incidentally, the wife and kids of officeholders benefit from the housing allowance, the freebies such as trips and invitations to watch from private suites in sports and theatre facilities such as the Capitol Center, Laurel Race Track, Kennedy Center, White House festivities (July 4th fireworks from top of a Smithsonian building, which some of my family went to as friend of an officeholder’s daughter), tours, say of the Treasury with free samples – okay, that was a figment of the imagination – and the like. So being paid straight from the public pocket is a big dollop of gravy.

    Ruth (82832d)

  14. The Dems have been handed opportunity after opportunity to win my vote and they keep screwing it up. First there was Social Security reform – this should be a Dem initiative and they should be skewing it as progresive as possible (imagine: 6% of your first $10K in earnings AUTOMATICALLY goes into a private account). Instead, they’re against it. On this issue, the Dems should say “no mas”. If the Repubs want to hire family as ‘staff’ fine, but we won’t do it. A golden opportunity imo.

    In the private sector I think nespotism is rare and becoming even rarer. A few decades ago it wasn’t uncommon to have a CEO pass the reigns to a son. Not so anymore. In my 12 year private sector career I only knew of one instance where two members of an immediate family were employed by my company: and they worked about 2,000 miles away from each other so I’m not sure nespotism had anything to do with it.

    Sweetie (f6fb72)

  15. Sweetie:

    Actually, more than one Dem has responded to the question about what the Dem social security plan by saying that they go with the existing one. Which of course is only endangered if the present bust-the-budget policies keep up, and then not for a decade or two.

    And I hope you didn’t take my little comment on existing benefits for family of the officeholder being about Dem nepotism? the event on the 4th was during the 1st Pres Bush’s administration.

    Ruth (134d4f)

  16. Update: Tom Delay’s Ethics Problems
    I am posting this due to all the petty ethics complaints being thrown at Tom Delay. It just shows how silly one of the complaints made against him are really.

    Most of them are frivilous, which is why the republicans had to change the rules on the e…

    The Uncooperative Blogger (6a58d4)


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