Ethics loopholes allow kin payments

Feb. 24, 2008 at 10:25 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- Rules for U.S. federal lawmakers forbid corporate financing to senators, but the same rules don't hold for senators' families, a report says.

The watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, said at least 20 Senate members paid their own relatives millions of dollars for their fundraising and campaign work in what some critics say is an inherent conflict of interest, the Washington Post reported Sunday.

CREW combed finance records dating back to 2000 and, though there is nothing explicitly forbidding the practice in current ethics regulations, some lawmakers see the practice as part of a broader wave of ethics violations.

The House of Representatives passed a bill in July banning the practice, but the legislation stalled in the Senate. An amendment in the most recent ethics reform before the Senate banning the practice of paying relatives for their work failed 54-41.

Some senators said during debate of the measure that there was "no evidence of anything improper" in the Senate, but Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, who sponsored the House measure, said "there's some serious self-interest … and it should be outlawed."

Schiff is seeking a co-sponsor to reintroduce the measure, the Post said.

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