Ethics experts have no lack of work when it comes to investigating Congressional financial impropriety, and one Democratic lawmaker has added to the workload as it is revealed he has paid his grandson $21,000 in campaign funds since this April, forming part of a disturbing pattern with little oversight.
FEC filings show the third-ranking House member and Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina paid Walter A.C. Reed, the son of his daughter Jennifer Clyburn Reed and son-in-law Walter A. Reed, $21,000 during the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) second fundraising quarter. Reed is a salaried employee of Clyburn’s campaign and has been paid a total of $58,500 by the Friends of Jim Clyburn campaign committee since October 2021. This same committee also paid $7,500 to a corporate entity, 49 Magnolia Blossom LLC, controlled by Jennifer Clyburn Reed and Walter A. Reed, for rent.
Grandson Walter refers to himself as Clyburn’s campaign manager on his Twitter account. Some of his recent tweets include calling for court-packing shortly after SCOTUS’s overturning Roe v. Wade and ending the filibuster. His grandfather also tweeted similar comments about abolishing the filibuster.
As the DailyCaller reports:
Friends of Jim Clyburn additionally paid 49 Magnolia Blossom LLC $7,500 on April 29 for office rent. The Clyburn campaign has paid the LLC, which lists Clyburn’s son-in-law Walter A. Reed as its registered agent, $70,000 since March 2020. Tom Steyer’s failed 2020 presidential campaign paid 49 Magnolia Blossom more than $45,000 for office space. Clyburn ultimately endorsed Joe Biden on the eve of the South Carolina primary.
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Everything political can be passed or won w/ a simple majority, but the power the turn bills into laws that could change our society for the better? It doesn’t make sense. It’s time we break the Republican-led filibuster & change Senate rules.
— Walter A C. Reed (@deerretlaw) January 17, 2022
It is not unusual for Congress members to put family members on their campaign payroll, but it does raise ethical eyebrows even if the services provided by the family member are legal. Clyburn has distributed more than $260,000 to family members since 2010 via his committee and is considered to be one of the worst offenders of this practice.
Dan Backer, a campaign finance attorney, told the Daily Caller that, “There are two considerations. The first is legal. At the end of the day, as long as the family member is providing bona fide services, and that is the fair market value of the services, then it is legal. The other angle is optics and ethics. It looks really shady to do this.”
It is unclear how Clyburn determined the fair market value of his grandson’s work, but no one from his team responded to a request for comment on this detail.
Backer points out that in many different industries, paying family members and relatives constitutes a conflict of interest and involves paperwork and waivers before any work can take place, something that is ostensibly absent from political settings and campaign climates. “It’s an obvious ethical problem,” he added.
As the Daily Caller reports, Jennifer Clyburn and Clyburn’s other two daughters, Mignon and Angela, are active in Democratic Party politics:
Jennifer Clyburn Reed currently sits on the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission. Mignon Clyburn, a Washington, D.C., -based consultant, served two terms on the Federal Communications Commission, and Angela Clyburn Hannibal serves as Political Director for the South Carolina Democratic Party.