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New report details how U.S. House members used their positions to benefit themselves, family

By Dan Christensen, BrowardBulldog.org

Rep. Ted Deutch, left, and Rep. Alcee Hastings

A new study by a Washington watchdog group describes how numerous members of the U.S. House of Representatives – including 18 from Florida – have used their positions to financially benefit themselves and family members.

The South Florida standouts in Thursday’s 347-page report by the non-partisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) are Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar and Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.

Hastings, a former federal judge and a 10-term member of Congress, paid his girlfriend, Patricia Williams, $622,574 between 2007 and 2010 to be deputy district director of his congressional office. Her most recent annual salary was $166,000, the report says.

“In addition, Rep. Hastings owes Ms. Williams, a lawyer, between $500,001 and $1,000,000 for defending him during an impeachment trial,” the report says.

In 1988, then-U.S. District Judge Hastings was impeached for bribery and perjury. He was convicted a year later by the Senate and removed from office.

Hastings is also cited in CREW’s report, titled “Family Affair,” for having been reimbursed $15,647 for travel and event expenses by his campaign committee.

DEUTCH PAYS RENT TO BROTHER’S LAW FIRM

Rep. Deutch, was an attorney at Broad and Cassel before he was elected to Congress in 2010. His brother, Jeffrey Deutch, is a managing director in the firm’s Boca Raton office.

Deutch’s campaign committee, Ted Deutch for Congress, paid rent to his brother’s employer, the report says.

“During the 2010 election cycle, Rep. Deutch’s campaign committee paid Broad and Cassel $14,720 for rent, shipping and telephone services,” the report says.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, is a 12-term Congresswoman and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The report details her campaign’s reimbursements to her and her father, Enrique Ros. For the 2008 and 2010 election cycles, Ros-Lehtinen was reimbursed $76,000 for travel, meal and other expenses. In the same period, her father was reimbursed $1,500.

Some examples in the report involve small amounts of money

For example, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is cited because her campaign paid about $600 fees to her husband’s employer during the 2008 and 2010 election cycles.  Steve Schultz is a vice president at Community Bank of Broward, where his wife maintains an account for her campaign.

DID MICA EARMARK BENEFIT DAUGHTER’S CLIENT?

Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, sponsored a $13 million earmark in 2009 for the controversial, 61-mile Central Florida Commuter Rail project “that appears to have benefitted his daughter’s client,” the report says.

Rep. John Mica

His daughter is D’Anne Mica. From 2003-2011 she ran Mica Strategic Communications, a public relations firm. The firm’s web site listed the Florida engineering firm PBS&J as one of her clients.

The report says that PBS&J, acquired in 2010 by the United Kingdom’s engineering and design giant WS Atkins, supported that major rail initiative which is also known as SunRail. A number of Atkins’ employees are listed on a “Sunrail Key Contact List” prepared by Mica’s office and updated earlier this week.

Rep. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, is the House’s longest serving Republican. The report says he “earmarked millions of dollars to his sons’ employers.

Billy Young is a senior coordinator at the National Forensic Science Technology Center in Largo. Between 2008 and 2010, his father earmarked more than $12.2 million to the center, the report says.

Patrick Young worked as a security administrator at Science Applications International Corp. in St. Petersburg. In fiscal year 2008, his father earmarked $4.4 million to SAIC, the report says.

Rep. Young also employed his daughter-in-law, Ashley Abreu Young, as a case assistant in his office. Her most recent salary was $44,000, the report says.

BROWN EARMARKED TO DAUGHTER’S CLIENT

Congresswoman Corrine Brown, a 10-term Democrat from Jacksonville, earmarked money to a client of her lobbyist daughter, the report says.

Shantrel Brown-Fields is a partner at the lobbying firm of Alcalde & Fay and lobbies on transportation and infrastructure issues. Her clients include the Community Rehabilitation Center of Jacksonville.

Between 2008 and 2010, Rep. Brown earmarked a total of $939,000 to the Community Rehabilitation Center, the report says.

The campaign of Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, paid the congressman’s sister-in-law a salary and paid two of his private companies for various services, the report says.

Yvonne Buchanan drew a salary totaling $117,000 during the 2008 and 2010 campaigns.

Buchanan’s Jamatt Properties was paid about $76,000 during the same campaign for rent, storage and other services, the report says. Buchanan’s Auto Central Services was paid $6,500 during the same period.

Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns, Gainesville, and Gus Bilirakis, Tampa, were also cited for earmarks in the report.

In 2008 and 2009, Rep. Stearns earmarked $430,000 to his wife’s employer, the College of Central Florida, the report says. His campaign also donated to the college.

Rep. Bilirakis earmarked $350,000 in 2010 to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. Bilirakis is honorary chairman of the Greek Children’s Fund for All Children’s Hospital, the report says.

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