Hmm, ethics problem …
Hmm, ethics problem here?

Rep. Bernard Sanders used campaign donations to pay his wife and stepdaughter more than $150,000 for campaign-related work since 2000, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Sound vaguely familiar?

The ethics of lawmakers paying their families jumped into the spotlight on Capitol Hill last week, following reports that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas had paid his wife and daughter more than $500,000 for campaign-related work.

Jim Barrett, chairman of the Vermont Republican Party, used Sanders’ family payments to highlight what he said is Democratic “hypocrisy” for fiercely attacking DeLay. “It’s the standard hypocrisy from the left,” Barrett said. “When a Republican does it, it’s inappropriate and front page news. But now it turns out, our own Bernie Sanders has been doing it for a long time.”

He added: “If it’s corruption when Tom DeLay does it, then it’s corruption when Bernie Sanders does it.”

Double-standards have a rich history in the Democratic Party.

Now, the question is, is this practice legal? The article covers this topic.

No laws prohibit candidates from paying family members for campaign work. But the appearance that lawmakers use their position to benefit people close to them concerns watchdog groups.

“Anytime you pay a family member there’s going to be questions raised,” said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-partisan research group in Washington.

The real question, he says, is whether family members conducted work commesurate to their pay. If they did, “then it’s more difficult to say (lawmakers) are funneling money back to the family.”

Mary Bloyer, a spokeswoman for Common Cause, a nonprofit advocacy group, said: “The danger here is that you want members of Congress who are in Washington to serve their constituents and not enrich their families. Something like this makes people look twice and makes them wonder what’s going on here.”

It’s something worth keeping tabs on, that’s for sure. But unless there’s some evidence that DeLay or Sanders were just funnelling money to family members who weren’t earning their wages, then, apart from looking into that aspect this shouldn’t be nearly the issue the Democrats have made it.

As I said, it’s a simple matter of throwing everything they can at someone until something sticks. Right, Newt?

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