in Houston, Texas
House members - including almost two-thirds of Texas delegation - boost family interests; CREW tracks payments in nepotism study
Monday, Mar 26, 2012, 11:34AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

This will come as little surprise to those of you who pay the slightest attention to American politics but one of the best investments a family can make is getting one of their own elected to Congress.

Almost two-thirds of the Texas delegation, 248 members of Congress in all, managed, somehow, to get political money into the hands of their relatives, according to a new report by a non-profit watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

While the group is commonly described as liberal or left-leaning, its study identifies 143 Republicans and 105 Democrats, 15 of the 23 Republicans and six of nine Democrats from Texas as committing some form of political nepotism.

While the study is careful to point out that none of this nest feathering is illegal, neither is it particularly savory. “The American people don’t expect [politics] to be a family business," Melanie Sloan, the group’s executive director told NBC News.

The group devoted a full four pages of the 347-page report to Texas presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul. The report says 11 relatives, from wife, Carol, to a gaggle of grandchildren, received something connected to his role in Congress.

Paul had six relatives on his payroll, more than any other congressman, paying them a combined $304,599 in the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, the report says. He reimbursed family members $47,421 during that time.

The family connections of five other Texas lawmakers -  Reps. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, Rubén Hinojosa, D-Mercedes, Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, and Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio - were exposed in an earlier Washington Post study reported on by Texas Watchdog.

Granger finished second on a list of 49 congressmen who delivered earmarked federal funds to someone close to them, in Granger’s case almost $52 million for a downtown Fort Worth redevelopment project run by her son.

The Citizens’ study found 90 representatives paying or contributing $3,148,495 to family businesses, employers, or nonprofits over the 2008 and 2010 election cycles.

Another 82 representatives paid $5,575,090 in salaries or fees to 117 family members during that period.

The study also found the representatives were related to 58 registered lobbyists or government affairs professionals.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of money by flickr user 401K, used via a Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, 03/28/2012 - 12:27PM

You do realize that CREW is a left-wing, Soros-funded organization. Not that what they do is untrue or invalid, but I just wanted to point that out.

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