A new report by Washington D.C.-based government watchdog details how much money Minnesota’s congressional delegation has paid family members for campaign work.
DFL Rep. Collin Peterson paid his son, Elliott Peterson, roughly $105,000 during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles in salary and reimbursements.
Peterson said that, though his son has a masters in music, he’s one-quarter away from having an accounting degree, too.
“He files all the reports, keeps track of all the money, pays all the bills,” Peterson said. “And I trust him.”
During the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, Peterson also used about $30,000 from his campaign fund and his leadership political action committee to pay for travel reimbursement, including Peterson’s personal airplane mileage. Peterson is a pilot, and uses his personal plane to traverse the 7th Congressional District.
“I don’t drive any place. I fly,” he said. “If I didn’t fly, I wouldn’t get anything done.”
Peterson said that he still covers about 15 percent of the flying cost out of pocket.
Other Minnesota lawmakers were included in the report:
- 3rd District Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen paid his wife, Kelly, more than $10,000 in salary and travel expenses during the 2008 election cycle. In 2009, a spokesman said that she served as office manager and helped wind down campaign operations after the election. Paulsen also reimbursed himself roughly $29,000 for office supplies, travel, and meals during the 2008 and 2010 elections, according to the report.
- 1st District DFL Rep. Tim Walz used his campaign fund and his leadership committee for nearly $30,000 in reimbursements for food, travel and babysitting costs. According to OpenSecrets.org, a database of campaign spending, at least some of those babysitting costs are associated with campaign events.
- 5th District DFL Rep. Keith Ellison paid his son, Isaiah, roughly $7,000 in salary during the 2010 election cycle.
Lawmakers typically use campaign funds to cover travel associated with campaigning.
CREW also notes in its report that these payments to family are legal, so long as the the family members was providing a bona fide service at fair market value.
But CREW also wrote that it was “unable to discover the qualifications of those family members, whether the payments were for bona fide campaign services or whether the payments were fair market value.”
We’re still waiting to hear back from some of those cited in the report and will update when we do.