Fundraising spouses making commission. Isn't this something that is just plain wrong?

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We all have heard about Tom DeLay's wife working for his foundation and former staffer's consulting firm, and his daughter working as a fundraiser for his PACs and congressional campaigns. But this one seems to take the cake:


Both John Doolittle (R-CA) and John Sweeney (R-NY) hired their wives to raise money for their campaigns. And, their spouses took a direct commission on contributions they raised for their husbands. Doolittle's wife Julie Doolittle charged 15% while Sweeney's wife Gayle Ford charges 10%. This, according to a colleague, is a direct violation of the code of ethics of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which counts 26,000 members in 172 chapters around the world. It's guidelines say, "Members shall not accept compensation that is based on a percentage of charitable contributions; nor shall they accept finder's fees." I guess Julie Doolittle and Gayle Ford let their membership lapse.


I have to say, I find this incredibly unethical, and of course, tone deaf. Garden variety pay-to-play politics is bad. Very bad. It corrupts decision-making in Congress. But add to the pay-to-play system a financial incentive to do what the donor wants in exchange for the money (because your family nets 10% or 15%) and you get a recipe for corruption with no end. This is not an issue of the ability of women to making a living. There's lots of ways for fundraisers to structure their compensation. A salary, or a consulting fee, or maybe even a bonus for meeting certain goals. But a commission? This is sleazy. Period.