Politics

Democratic Rep. James Clyburn Shells Out Thousands In Campaign Funds To Family Members

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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House Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina has paid his grandson $21,000 in campaign funds since April 1, continuing a pattern that has alarmed ethics experts.

Clyburn 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, the third-ranking House Democrat’s FEC filings show. Reed, a salaried employee of the Clyburn campaign, has been paid $58,500 by the Friends of Jim Clyburn campaign committee since October 2021. Friends of Jim Clyburn also paid $7,500 in rent to 49 Magnolia Blossom LLC, a corporate entity controlled by Jennifer Clyburn Reed and Walter A. Reed.

Walter A.C. Reed describes himself as Clyburn’s campaign manager on his Twitter account. He called for court-packing shortly after the Supreme Court released its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Walter A.C. Reed, like his grandfather, has also voiced support for eliminating the filibuster. (RELATED: ‘This Is Jim Crow 2.0’: Rep. Clyburn Slams Election Integrity Laws, Defends Biden’s Divisive Speech)

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.

Although many members of Congress do pay family members through campaign accounts, ethics experts frown upon the practice. Clyburn is one of the worst offenders, distributing more than $260,000 to family members since 2010 through the Friends of Jim Clyburn committee.

“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,” Dan Backer, a campaign finance attorney, told the Daily Caller. “The other angle is optics and ethics. It looks really shady to do this.”

A spokeswoman for Clyburn did not respond to the Daily Caller’s request for information about how the campaign determines the fair market value of Walter A.C. Reed’s work.

“It’s an obvious ethical problem,” Backer continued. “In many other industries, paying family members and relatives of decision-makers usually involves some sort of conflict-of-interest waiver. But it’s almost impossible to find that in a campaign context.” (RELATED: Democrat Congressman Used Campaign Funds To Pay His Wife And Ex-Con Son Thousands, Records Reveal)

All three of Clyburn’s daughters 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.