By Jim McElhatton
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The Washington Times
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. has paid more than $2 million in campaign cash to his family members, their businesses and employers over the years, a practice that watchdogs criticize as rife with potential conflicts of interest.
The money largely flowed from the coffers of Mr. Biden’s failed presidential campaign during the past two years to a company that employs his sister and longtime campaign manager, Valerie Biden Owens, according to campaign disclosure filings.
The senator from Delaware also directed campaign legal work to a Washington lobbying and law firm founded by his son R. Hunter Biden, the disclosures show.
Putting family members and their companies on the political payroll is legal if the work is legitimate and charged at market rates, according to the Federal Election Commission. Still, public watchdog groups have long criticized such arrangements.
“Even though legal within restraints, it’s not something I view as completely ethical,” said Craig Holman, legislative director for Public Citizen, a campaign finance watchdog organization. “Any candidate ought to shy away from that.”
Aides to Mr. Biden said all of the payments he has made to family members or their employers were aboveboard.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) (2nd R) waves and walks offstage with his wife Jilll (R) and family members at the end of his debate with Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri October 2, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria