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July 23, 2007

House Passes Schiff Measure to Prevent the Spouses of Elected Officials and Candidates from Collecting Campaign Checks

Washington, DC – Today, in an effort to continue to raise the bar on ethical standards in Congress, the House passed a bipartisan measure authored by Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), which will end the potentially corrupt practice of allowing federal office holders and candidates to employ their spouses in their campaign.  The Campaign Expenditure Transparency Act (H.R. 2630), cosponsored by Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE), would amend campaign finance laws to prohibit a practice whereby spouses of federal candidates are on the payroll of the candidate’s campaign and would also require the disclosure of all other immediate family members who are employed by the candidate’s campaign.

“There have been too many reports of corruption and abuse in Congress over the last few years, and the passage of this bill with bipartisan support marks an important step forward in restoring the public’s confidence that elected officials are working in the public’s interest and not their own,” said Schiff.  “Candidates run for federal office to serve the public, not to financially profit from the campaign.”  

“Members of Congress and Congressional candidates should not pay spouses from campaign funds.   I would prefer if HR 2630 went beyond spouses and included a ban to keep all family members off campaign payrolls but this bill will move us in the right direction to eliminate abuse and also minimize the perception of abuse,” Castle said.  

Speaker Pelosi said: “Democrats are committed to reforming the way Washington does business.  Congressman Schiff’s bill will help us accomplish that goal by increasing transparency in election campaigns and preventing the misuse of funds.”

“The Campaign Expenditure Transparency Act will help strengthen the people's trust in their government - without trust Congress can't help move the nation forward in a new direction,” said Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.   This legislation is part of Democrats’ promise to restore high ethical standards to Washington and clean up the culture of corruption that emerged under Republicans in recent years.”

The practice of paying family members, particularly spouses, has the potential to raise many conflicts of interests, given that the candidate stands to potentially benefit financially from any compensation paid to a spouse.  This bill halts that practice, and it further ensures that the public is informed of any payment made to an immediate family member from the campaign. 

A particularly egregious example of this practice involves the spouse of an elected official earning commissions for fundraising activity.  In those situations, the candidate or elected official personally pockets a percentage of all campaign funds through the spouse’s commissions.

Congressman Schiff has a long record of fighting for campaign finance reform.  On his first day in Congress, he cosponsored the McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform legislation and helped organize freshman members to support its passage.

Original cosponsors include: Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip James Clyburn, Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel, Democratic Vice Chair John Larson, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Chris Van Hollen, and Rules Committee Chair Louise Slaughter.  Republican Co-sponsor Mike Castle of Delaware is also joined by Republican Rep. Todd Platts of Pennsylvania.

Rep. Schiff was appointed to serve on the House Appropriations Committee in the 110th Congress and is a member of its Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee, the State Department and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, and Financial Services Subcommittee.  He also serves on the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel and the House Judiciary Committee and its Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. He represents California’s 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.