on slippery slope hiring wife
Paying Becca Labrador with campaign funds to be accountant can create dubious impressionAnytime a politician approaches an ethical border, the first thing out of his mouth is: “It’s legal.” And the next thing is: “Everybody else does it.” So it goes with freshman Congressman Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who waited all of five months in office before putting his wife Becca on the payroll. As the Spokesman-Review’s Betsy Russell reported, Labrador hired his wife as his campaign accountant. Hired in May, she’s paid $2,050 a month and is the campaign’s sole employee. Nepotism laws apply only to federal offices. Becca Labrador can’t draw a salary from her husband’s congressional staff — where he earns $174,000. And Labrador can’t spend campaign contributions on himself. Even after he retires from office, the law prohibits him converting whatever cash remains in that account to personal use. But hiring his wife for the campaign accomplishes the same result. In the current cycle, Labrador has raised about $270,000, much of it from the National Rifle Association, the American Bankers Association, California Dairies Inc., and Koch Industries. So far, he has spent $157,737. And $33,725, or 22 cents of every dollar, has found its way into the Labrador family budget through the salary paid to Becca Labrador. Even that might have been illegal had a 2007 House reform — proposed after Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., got into trouble paying his wife a 15 percent commission on contributions to his leadership PAC — not been bottled up in the Senate. For Idaho, this is not unique. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, paid his wife Susan $78,514 to perform campaign work between 2000 and 2006. Susan Crapo now works only for Crapo’s PAC and was paid $4,677 from Jan. 1 to July 31. Former Congressman Bill Sali, R-Idaho, also hired his daughter-in-law Jessica Sali for his campaign. But the watchdog group Public Citizen says you won’t find more than 20 of the 535 representatives and senators employing spouses on campaigns or PACs. Most members don’t like the impression this practice creates. Labrador says he’s just being fiscally prudent. His wife works 20 hours a week keeping the campaign books. “We are the most frugal campaign in the state,” Labrador says. “We work hard and make sure that the people who contribute money to our campaign, their money’s used correctly and adequately.” Then why does it cost Labrador more money to have his wife prepare the books than it does for 2nd District Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, to hire an outside accountant for his campaign? Since Jan. 1, Simpson’s campaign paid $16,443 to a Blackfoot accounting firm. And if it’s so frugal to hire his own wife as an accountant, why does the Labrador campaign then secure the services of an election compliance service to check over Becca Labrador’s work and make certain all Federal Election Commission rules are followed? Assuring compliance with FEC regs is the duty of a campaign accountant. Only at the highly sophisticated presidential campaign level do you see election compliance services, says Public Citizen. Not only would that extra layer of review add expense, but it would suggest the campaign doesn’t have the highest confidence in its accountant. Labrador is smart and may have the best instincts of any politician on the Idaho scene today. But Idaho has seen several of its talented officials get tripped up by sloppy finances. Labrador is making a mistake if he thinks he’s immune. n Our view is based on the majority opinions of the Idaho Press-Tribune editorial board. Members of the board are Publisher Matt Davison, Managing Editor Vickie Holbrook and community members Tim Vandeventer and Sandi Levi, all of Nampa; Opinion Editor Phil Bridges and community member John Blaisdell of Caldwell, and Alex Zamora of Wilder.
Ooops! This is a no-no Raul. Never hire your family when you are in office no matter how qualified they are. You may get away with it if they get a job with the state and are paid with state monies, but you paid her out of campaign funds....no, no, no...
Occupy rallies have degeneratedOccupy Wall Street has degenerated into Down With Everything. A message of the so-called 99 percent, decrying corporate welfare, bailouts, etc., that resonates with the vast majority of Americans of all stripes has been replaced with a laundry list of left-wing causes that don’t represent a majority of any of us. Occupy Boise should be as appalled as the rest of us, otherwise they should not presume to speak for the “99 percent.” Remember Nancy Pelosi’s angst over Tea Party rallies’ “air of violence?” Remember accusations of racism in the Tea Party and demands they “police their own?” Remember Biden calling the Tea Party terrorists? Now with every week that goes by, criminal activity in the Occupy ranks increases, and those with legitimate concerns become less relevant to what is happening. Pelosi has proved she supports violence and censorship. Biden has proved he supports terrorist tactics that have made people in Oakland afraid to go to work. David Duke has come out in favor of the protesters with the same anti-Semitic, Jew-hating rhetoric that many of the marchers are using. 99 percent? Give us a break! I’m sorry, Delmar Stone and Occupy Boise, but this is the sad truth about your movement: Any adults that were involved with the Occupy “movement” left the island weeks ago, and it’s turning into Lord of the Flies. When some OWS protesters defecated on a police car in New York, it redefined the movement, appropriately, from “occupy” to “bowel.” Up to that point, legitimate concerns were expressed in a peaceful fashion. Now we have Oakland on the verge of riots, and Democrat leadership seems to be OK with it. And expecting the Occupiers to police their own? Right. Anybody who could not see this coming is delusional. n Ron Hitt, Nampa
Ron, Ron, Ron, what garbage. Nancy Pelosi was upset that the people were protesting against things they knew nothing about...like Medicare...they didn't realize Medicare was 'socialized' medicine. Their causes weren't truly representing what America wants or needs.
Now we have you saying the Occupy movement is in bed with David Duke...what rot. Just because Duke supports the movement doesn't mean the movement can do anything about that support. You, Ronnie, are against the working man and that's why you don't think the movement is good for the country. I've been screaming this would happen for the past 3 years, both in the paper and in my blog. Americans...in general, are sick and tired of the the Have's having and the Have Not's having nothing. When society becomes this divided, the country goes into revolution mode and that's what the Occupy movement is about...a new way of treating the haves. The unions don't have the power any more, but the youth does and they will use that power every time.
Ron, you are foolish to think this movement is 'bad' for this country. If anything, it's good for this country. America needs to be shook up. If the bank failures and the thieves on Wall Street didn't upset you, they really pissed off this country...especially the people who are young and educated and out of work because of the Republican deregulations of the past.
Beware...Ron, Beware! This is just the beginning. Mark my word, fur will fly before it's over.