Congressional Family Members Enjoy Plush Perks

Membership has its benefits


DES MOINES – Family members and close friends of Iowa's Congressional Delegation benefit from their relative's position, whether it be through securing special one-time funding for an alma mater or hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay a lawmaker's son for working on his campaign, a review federal records shows.

Take for example U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley and his son Robin Grassley. The younger Grassley received $926,000 in farm subsidies from 1995 to 2011, years in which his Republican father served on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, secured $45.5 million in earmarks from 2008 to 2010 that largely funded programs and projects at his alma mater Iowa State University, according to Legistorm, a non-profit group aimed to increase transparency in government. The money was awarded to the school while his wife, Ruth Harkin, served on the Iowa Board of Regents, which oversees the university.