Keeping Your Money In Their Families

generic capitol congress house cash money budget CBS/AP

When the city of Columbia, S.C., built one brand new fitness center, it was thanks in part to a $1 million earmark from Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C. And who was among the early hires? The Congressman's daughter, CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports.

Attkisson asked Clyburn: "How do you know they didn't hire her because you had helped them earmark money for the center?"

"I have absolutely no idea what was going on there ..." Clyburn said. "I do know this: I would hate to think that because I was involved with helping them build the center that they would refuse to hire my daughter."

It's all perfectly legal. Through "earmarks," lawmakers can direct funds for pet projects without the normal public review - and they don't have to disclose when family members might benefit.

Alaska's powerful Sen. Ted Stevens, used federal money to create a group to market his state's seafood, which then hired the Senator's son to lead it. The group got more than $30 million in federal dollars, courtesy of the senator who wouldn't agree to an interview.

Then there's the First Ladies Library in Canton, Ohio, started by Mary Regula - as in wife of Rep. Ralph Regula, D-Ohio, whose committee paved the way for the Library to get $1 million in taxes a year.

The First Ladies Library is truly all in the family. No only was it founded by congressman Regula's wife, and paid for with your tax dollars thanks to the congressman, but guess who the director is? Regula's daughter.

This year, Regula added a bonus: a $130,000 earmark. He refused to talk to CBS News and folks at the Library weren't very helpful. The day we visited, they locked up early.

When we asked for details, Executive Director Pat Krider e-mailed: "I will not be providing any of the requested information."

But CBS News did find tax forms showing Regula's daughter pulls in about $70,000.

Check out Congress' biggest earmarkers.
Back in South Carolina, an encore from another Dad. This year Clyburn earmarked $235,000 more to that fitness center where his daughter works.

Attkisson asked him: "What if any role did your daughter's employment there play in you wanting to give the new earmark to the center?"

"Absolutely none whatsoever," Clyburn said.

Would he support a broader disclosure where he would have to say whether a family member is part of an entity that recieves an earmark?

"Sure, I would have no problem with that," he said.

But so far nobody in Congress is rushing to change the rules for when earmarks end up benefiting family.
  • Sharyl Attkisson On Twitter»

    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.

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