WATCH: Former GOP Rep. struggles to explain putting his daughters on campaign payroll
Former Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA) appears to be uncomfortable in an excerpt from a 60 Minutes report discussing lawmakers’ use of political action committee funds to put family members on their campaign staffs.
“What exactly did they do, can you tell me?” CBS News correspondent Steve Kroft asked Alexander, after citing data indicating he paid his two daughters a collective $130,000 over the course of his last re-election campaign.
“They did everything that others do for other campaigns,” Alexander responded.
“To some people it just looks like you’re using your campaign fund to enrich your family,” Kroft continued.
“Well, somebody has to do that work,” Alexander answered. When Kroft pointed out that Alexander “kept it in the family,” Alexander explained, “I kept it with somebody that I can trust. And if one can’t trust their daughters, then who can they trust?”
Lacking a Democratic Party challenger, 77 percent of voters in Louisiana’s 5th Disrict supported Alexander in November 2012, picking him over “No-Party candidate Ron Ceasar, who garnered 14 percent of the vote, and libertarian Clay Steven Grant, who endorsed abolishing the Internal Revenue Service, won just under 8 percent. Alexander retired from office in August 2013 and formally resigned on Sept. 26 to take a position in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) administration leading the state Department of Veterans Affairs.
According to Kroft, the practice is legal, but runs counter to anti-nepotism policies in many business environments. Melanie Sloan, director of the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which provided CBS News with data for the report said that many lawmakers exploited a loophole allowing family members to work on campaigns.
“It’s a family business,” Sloan explained to Kroft. “They have members of their family on the campaign payroll. They also will often have members of their family who are lobbyists, and lobby on issues which the member [of Congress] may even be working.”
Alexander has been retired from office as of Sept. 27
Kroft also reported that, before his own retirement from office in November 2012, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) had paid $304,000 to six family members — daughter, his daughter’s mother-in-law, three grandchildren, and a grandchild-in-law — over the past two election cycles, among the most of any U.S. lawmaker.
Watch footage Kroft’s interview with Alexander, as published by CBS News on Friday, below.