Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Congressman Stark Paid Wife $176,800

By Kathleen Richards
Tue, Jun 19, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Fremont Congressman Pete Stark paid his wife Deborah $176,800 during the last three campaigns to be his campaign treasurer, according to a recent report released by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

In an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, Stark said his wife is well qualified and saved him money from having to pay a fund-raiser, lawyer, or campaign manager. However, his wife quit after November's campaign to "spend more time with their three young children." And also because "all that fussing with the campaign reporting ... became an annoyance to her."

Stark was one of 337 members of the House of Representatives that the report, entitled "Family Affair," examined over the 2002, 2004, and 2006 election cycles, to see whether they used their positions to fill the pockets of their family members. In total, the report found 96 members from 33 states (41 Democrats and 55 Republicans) paid family members $1.6 million.

Also named in the report is San Jose Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who paid her husband lawyer John Marshall Collins' two law firms $350,000 over the last six years. While it's illegal for members of Congress to hire family members to work on their congressional staffs, it's not illegal for them to pay relatives for campaign work as long as they're qualified and paid a fair market value for their service. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington hopes the report will spark debate about the ramifications of such practices.

Of course, our very own state Senator Don Perata puts Washington to shame. As previously reported by Robert Gammon in the Express, his various campaigns and those closely associated with him paid his son Nick Perata more than $1.2 million from 2000 through 2004.

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