Republican Assembly candidate Patricia McKeon, wife of Rep. Buck McKeon, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and Simi Valley GOP Activist/Consultant Steve Frank
Recent disclosures reveal that a federal lobbyist with ties to Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., the senior member of the committee overseeing the Pentagon, provided financial support to McKeon’s wife, who is seeking a seat in the California Assembly this year. As defense industry lobbyists scramble to head off looming cuts in the Pentagon budget, they are looking for new ways to ingratiate themselves with McKeon.
Patricia McKeon, Buck’s wife, surprised many when she announced her intention last September to run for an open seat that largely overlaps her husband’s district. One of the first reported contributions to her campaign came from a political committee called the Fund for American Opportunity, registered to a post office box in Washington, D.C., that donated $1,000. The fund, which is financed by a number of corporations including the drug industry trade association PhRMA, is owned and operated by Mark Valente, a Beltway lobbyist.
The contribution, reported here for the first time, appears to be an effort to circumvent federal campaign limits. Federal campaign disclosures show that Valente has already maxed out in donations to Rep. McKeon this cycle, having given $2,500 to his campaign for Congress. And the contribution came within a day of Valente’s donation to Patricia’s campaign for the California Assembly.
Then, there is the ethics issue of Mrs. McKeon receiving over $ 500K in salary from her husband’s Congressional campaign committee.
For the last 10 years, Buck McKeon made Patricia McKeon his highest-paid campaign staffer, an arrangement that ethics experts have criticized as an invitation for corruption. In 2007, a report exposed the fact that Patricia McKeon was by far the highest-compensated family member of the few members of Congress employing relatives for their campaigns.
A review of campaign documents by Salon found that, counting reimbursements for food and travel, the McKeon campaign committee has paid Patricia over $547,584 since 2001.
I think the Federal Elections Commission/FBI will soon be investigating the Mark Valente contribution.
As far as her receipt of monies from her husband’s campaign account, she had better account for her salary, because she is bound to be asked about it in a debate.