The Campaign Spot

Barbara Boxer’s Bad Week, Part Four of Five

We began the week by noticing that Sen. Barbara Boxer has repeatedly paid Rep. Maxine Waters’s daughter for a prominent spot on a “sample ballot” sent out to voters in the South Central Los Angeles district, effectively buying an endorsement from Rep. Waters. I noted that someone could argue that Waters is more morally culpable for this blatant auction of her mother’s influence and endorsement, but when it comes to steering campaign funds to relatives, Boxer isn’t one to throw stones.

Almost every politician’s child wants to see his parent prosper and succeed; there’s no harm in going into the family business. But the family business of mom’s campaigns has proven strikingly lucrative for Douglas Boxer.

From 2001 to 2006 — with precisely one Boxer Senate campaign during that period — Boxer paid her son more than $320,000, according to a report by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. During the 2008 election cycle, Boxer’s PAC gave $141,000 to the firm Douglas Boxer & Associates. So far this cycle, Boxer’s PAC has paid another $108,000.

It adds up to nearly $570,000 over 10 years. Hey, she’s a loving mother.

“It is an area that’s ripe for abuse, for someone who wants to turn campaign funds into personal use,” Craig Holman, a lobbyist for the nonprofit group Public Citizen, told the Washington Post in 2008. Although most lawmakers do not abuse the practice, he said, “those campaign funds always come from special interests, and those special interests are always looking for something in return.”

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