Ackerman says "show my wife the money!"

Kudos to U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D – Burbank) who “won House approval of a bill last month that he said would end the “potentially corrupt practice” of members of Congress writing big checks from donor funds to their spouses for services.”

Now, according to the L.A. Times, Schiff says that “California should follow the lead of seven other states, including Connecticut, Ohio and Texas, that also have outlawed the payments to spouses.”

He is right – and he backs his recommendation up with a great quote, “”When it’s the spouse who gets campaign money, it goes directly into the officeholder’s pocket and that’s a grievous conflict of interest.” Yes it is!

Schiff introduced the federal bill after Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Roseville) came under criticism for paying his wife a commission for campaign contributions she raised from supporters. The FBI has launched a probe of Julie Doolittle’s business, which did work for imprisoned lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

In Sacramento, the practice of paying relatives with campaign funds has been used by legislators including state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) and Senate Minority Leader Dick Ackerman (R-Irvine).

There you go…two of my least favorite legislator, Ackerman and Perata, want to keep the dirty money flowing to their spouses. Two peas in a pod.

Ackerman defended his arrangement with his wife, Linda, who has received $68,500 from five of his campaign committees since 2000, including $10,500 this year. Some of it is for reimbursement of expenses, such as purchasing office supplies, but most is for fundraising and consulting services.

The money comes from political committees that accepted contributions from businesses wanting Ackerman’s vote, including insurance industry groups, pharmaceutical companies, unions, and casino operators California Commerce Club and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Here’s the kicker – “I am aware there are potential abuses, but you have to weigh the real cost and benefits,” he said. “I don’t see it as a conflict.” OF COURSE HE DOESN’T!

But Perata is up to his eyeballs in similar graft:

Perata tapped his campaign committees from 2000 through 2004 to pay $357,000 to Exit Strategies, a firm operated by his son, Nick, for campaign consulting. FBI agents raided the son’s home in December 2004 as part of an investigation seeking information on Exit Strategies and other firms.

The probe has not led to any charges. The investigation also was looking at a firm involving Perata’s daughter that received $17,000 for fundraising and other services from 2000 through January 2005.

Read the entire Times article and you will see many other familiar names involved in this corruption, including Audra and Tony Strickland, Bill Maze, Patricia Wiggins, and Joe Simitian.

I will leave you with these closing thoughts from Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, who “thinks disclosure does not go far enough.”

“It’s so open to abuse. It’s a way to enhance the legislator’s income. It’s a backdoor way of getting paid by the campaign,” Stern said. “California legislators get paid very well. If the wife wants to work on the campaign, great — volunteer.”

Exactly. For the sake of the people of California we need to slam the door on these illicit spousal contributions. Now.

About Admin

"Admin" is just editors Vern Nelson, Greg Diamond, or Ryan Cantor sharing something that they mostly didn't write themselves, but think you should see. Before December 2010, "Admin" may have been former blog owner Art Pedroza.