Sen. Rick Santorum’s (R-Pa.) re-election campaign and political action committee have paid a dozen members of his personal and leadership staff more than $82,000 since the beginning of 2005, including more than $42,000 to Senate Republican Conference Staff Director Mark Rodgers and more than $24,000 to Conference and personal office spokesman Robert Traynham, a review of campaign finance records showed.
Santorum’s campaign committee, and to a lesser degree his America’s Foundation political action committee, have paid 12 members of his personal staff and the GOP Conference for a variety of activities, ranging from reimbursements for meals and travel expenses to “political consulting fees,” in addition to being actual paid members of his campaign staff.
Under Senate ethics rules and federal law, Senate aides can take paid positions with Members’ re-election campaigns as long as they abide by a set of fairly broad guidelines, which give staff significant leeway in how they operate.
“This arrangement has been approved by the Senate Ethics Committee, and these staff meet their obligations to ensure that the taxpayers get what they are paying for,” said Virginia Davis, Santorum’s campaign spokesperson. “These individuals provide invaluable counsel to Sen. Santorum both from their Hill and personal experiences. Those working on both official and campaign staffs have had their official salaries reduced in accordance with the change in time spent on non-official duties and in accordance with guidance from the Senate Ethics Committee.”
In addition to Rodgers and Traynham, Conference aides Kate Harris and Amy Marie Adams also have been paid by the campaign committee, while Katharine Gonzalez, who recently left the Conference to attend law school, was paid by the campaign this year prior to her departure from the Senate.
Personal office staff who have been paid for work on the campaign include Santorum’s three state directors, Jeffrey Haberkern, Keith Schmidt and Chad Weaver, as well as Suzy Soroka, Nancy Garver, Christine Meyer and Jason Davidek, among others.
Many of the payments appear to be reimbursements of travel and meal expenses for staff traveling to Pennsylvania. However, Traynham, Rodgers, Schmidt and Harris have also been paid as campaign staff.
Santorum’s staff continues to draw federal paychecks, although Santorum has reduced their salaries to reflect the reduction in time they spend on Senate business as a result of their campaign work. For instance, Traynham splits his time equally between campaign work and his Senate duties.
Although Senate staff often work for Members’ re-election campaigns in both paid and volunteer capacities while employed in the Senate, it is less common for leadership staff to work extensive hours on a re-election campaign, current and former Senate aides contend. In the past, according to these sources, aides have typically either limited their work on campaigns to points in the cycle in which they can use vacation time, have taken extended leave from their Senate posts or resigned them altogether to work on their bosses’ campaign.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.