Political Insider

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Reelection campaigns become family affairs for some Ga. congressmen

WASHINGTON — It’s common for the spouses and children of political candidates to make smiling cameos in campaign ads and at photo ops at local eateries. But for some Georgia congressmen, their re-election bids have become much more involved family affairs.

Several members of Congress from Georgia spent tens of thousands of dollars in recent years paying family members for campaign work big and small, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of campaign filings found.

One lawmaker, Republican U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, hired his daughter as his campaign manager. Another, Democratic U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, enlisted the help of his wife as a consultant and adult children as couriers. And they’re not alone.

The practice of hiring relatives is perfectly legal under the country’s campaign finance laws for members of Congress, and it isn’t new. Lawmakers of both parties from across the U.S. have paid folks with the same surname using money they raised for their own campaigns.

Critics say the practice raises questions of nepotism and the prospect that lawmakers could be using their office to enrich their families. Some representatives say there’s no one they trust more than their relatives to do the sensitive and unglamorous work of campaigning for re-election.

“All my life I’ve hired my kids,” said Loudermilk, who owned an information technology services business before he was elected to Congress in 2014. “Why should it be any different now?”

Read the whole story on myAJC:  Some Georgia lawmakers’ relatives land on campaign payrolls

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that impact Georgia.