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Report looks at family pay for McKeon

Posted: March 30, 2012 10:40 p.m.
Updated: March 30, 2012 10:40 p.m.
 

Several Southern California Congress members, including Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, were listed among those who hired family members for political work.

The 300-page report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington notes McKeon paid his wife, Patricia McKeon, $238,438 to serve as campaign treasurer during the 2008 and 2010 campaign cycle. Each cycle lasts two years.

McKeon was also reimbursed $3,402 from his campaign and his wife was paid $6,820 worth of expenses during the same period.

Other area congressional members named in the “Family Affair” report included Elton Gallegly, Howard Berman and Laura Richardson.

McKeon’s office noted it’s not against the law to hire family members and not outrageous to pay relatives anything less than an average middle-class salary range.

“When you put it in context, it comes down to her making about $60,000 a year,” said McKeon staffer Alissa McCurley.

“These members of Congress want the public to know employing their families and steering campaign money their way is perfectly legal,” the watchdog group said in a follow-up blog. “In our opinion, that’s the scandal.

“Members of Congress have devised a number of creative ways to benefit themselves and their families, and the law doesn’t require them to reveal they’re doing it,” the blog said. “They can loan their campaigns money at high rates of interest and keep collecting for years.”

McKeon issued a written response defending his wife’s campaign salary.

“My wife, Patricia, has been an essential component of my campaign team,” he wrote.

“She had daily roles as my treasurer and district fund-raiser, as she worked an incredible amount of time preparing the (Federal Election Commission) reports, putting on district fundraisers, and managing my full-time campaign office throughout the years.

“Her duties have been in total compliance with the rules of both the House Ethics Committee and the Federal Election Commission,” he said.

The campaign committee for Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, also paid his wife a salary, according to the “Family Affair” report.

The campaign of Berman, D-Van Nuys, paid his brother’s political consulting firm, the report said.

The campaign of Richardson, D-Long Beach, paid her nephew and other relatives salaries. In addition, Richardson is charging interest on loans to her campaign committee.

The watchdog group divided the benefits enjoyed by the McKeons as those the congressman made to himself and those made to his wife.

To himself:
n During the 2008 election cycle, McKeon’s campaign committee reimbursed McKeon $1,507 for travel, meals and software.

n During the 2010 election cycle, it reimbursed McKeon $1,895 for travel and meals.

To his wife:
n Patricia McKeon, treasurer for Buck McKeon for Congress, was paid $119,674 during the 2008 election cycle.

n During the 2008 election cycle, it reimbursed her $4,379 for office supplies, transportation and meals.
  During the 2010 election cycle, it paid her $118,764 in salary.
n During the 2010 cycle, it reimbursed her $2,441 for campaign travel and meals.

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