WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, Rep. Tom Tiffany (WI-07), joined by Reps. Mike Gallagher (WI-08), Nancy Mace (SC-01), and Claudia Tenney (NY-24), reintroduced the Oversight for Members And Relatives Act, or OMAR Act for short. This legislation would put an end to the practice of federal candidates tapping their campaign accounts to enrich their spouses. The OMAR Act would also require the disclosure of any other campaign compensation of immediate family members.
The bill is based on a bipartisan proposal introduced in the 110th Congress by Rep. Adam Schiff, which passed the House of Representatives without opposition and was endorsed at that time by members of the House Democrat leadership team.
“Regardless of political party, we should all be able to agree that running for political office shouldn't be part of a family enrichment scheme,” said Congressman Tiffany. “Public officials should serve their constituents; they shouldn’t be serving up a plate of campaign cash to their spouse. The OMAR Act will help restore public confidence in Congress and prevent politicians from pocketing their campaign funds.”
“Members of Congress should not be able to enrich themselves by paying their spouses with campaign money. It’s crazy this is even legal in the first place. This bill puts an end to this despicable practice and is a common-sense way to restore trust in government and ensure people don’t profit off running for Congress,” said Congressman Gallagher.
“The American people want honesty and transparency in campaign finance, and a start to this is ensuring members of Congress don’t funnel campaign money to members of their family. The OMAR Act is a good step in preventing any potential conflicts of interest, such as a Member paying their husband’s consulting firm $2.8 million. Public officials should always act in the best interest of their constituents, and this bill will help show the American people we’re serious about enforcing this principle,” said Congresswoman Mace.
For too long, lawmakers of both political parties have engaged in the ethically dubious practice of pocketing campaign funds by “hiring” their spouses and laundering the money as campaign-related expenses.
Fox News reported how an incumbent House member from Minnesota took advantage of this loophole and “paid nearly $2.8 million to her husband's political consulting firm so far in the 2019-2020 election cycle, including nearly 70% of her third-quarter disbursements.” To put this huge sum in perspective, it appears to be more than all members of Congress paid their immediate relatives during the entire 2012 election cycle, combined.
In 2007, Rep. Adam Schiff called for House approval of a ban on campaign payments to spouses “an important step forward in restoring the public's confidence that elected officials are working in the public's interest and not their own.” Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, too, praised the House action, saying it would “increase transparency in election campaigns and [prevent] the misuse of funds.”