- 96 members used their positions to financially benefit family members;
- 64 paid family members through their campaign committees of PACs;
- 24 have relatives who lobby Congress; and
- 19 used campaign funds to pay a family business or business that employs a family member.
Those numbers are startling when you consider that CREW only examined those members who were committee or subcomittee chairpersons or ranking members of a committee or subcommitee. Three Indiana congressmen made CREW's list, including Rep. Dan Burton (R), Rep. Steve Buyer (R) and Rep. Mike Pence (R).
Rep. Dan Burton is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Burton used campaign funds to pay significant money to his daughter, Danielle Sarkine, for performing services for his campaign. He paid her $58,400 during the 2006 cycle, $58,500 during the 2004 cycle and $27,000 during the 2002 cycle. He also paid her several thousand dollars for reimbursements. Burton has also been helpful to his brother, State Rep. Woody Burton (R-Greenwood). He's contributed $6,000 to Woody's campaigns over the past three election cycles, and spent several thousand dollars for "car repairs and insurance" to Woody.
Rep. Steve Buyer, ranking members of the House Veterans Committee, paid over $2,000 in campaign consulting fees to his daughter, Colleen Buyer. Rep. Mike Pence is the Ranking Member of the Middle East and South Asia Subcomittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Pence's brother, Edward Pence, is a Vice President and registered lobbyist for Cummins Inc, which is headquartered in Pence's district. The company has received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts over the past several years.
CREW thinks the practice of Members of Congress using campaign funds to pay members of their own family should be prohibited. It is illegal for a member to convert campaign funds to personal use; however, it is not illegal to use campaign funds to pay a family member as long as they are being paid the full market value for bona fide campaign-related services. CREW believes many of the payments to family members it reviewed appeared dubious. CREW also believes members of Congress should be required to disclose any family member who lobbies Congress. Similarly, registered lobbyists should be required to disclose family relationships to members of Congress CREW suggests.