Chavez Family Values: $$$

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After the Rove news, the story that grabbed my attention this morning was the Washington Post‘s exposé on the constellation of organizations controlled by right-wing luminary Linda Chavez and her husband Christopher Gersten.

Matthew Mosk reports that the foundations and PACs operated by the couple and their immediate family have raised tens of millions over recent years but have spent a remarkably tiny portion on achieving their groups’ stated goals:

Of the $24.5 million raised by the PACs from January 2003 to December 2006, $242,000 — or 1 percent — was passed on to politicians [and] the PACs spent even less — $151,236 — on independent political activity, such as mailing pamphlets.

Chavez once wrote in a fundraising appeal that “If we stop now, the terrorists win.” Thousands of Americans responded by scraping together $50 here and $100 there to keep Chavez’s groups running. But they didn’t know how the money was being spent:

[M]ost of the donations were channeled back into new fundraising efforts, and some were used to provide a modest but steady source of income for Chavez and four family members[.] Much of the remaining funds went to pay for expenses such as furniture, auto repairs and insurance, and rent[.] Even Chavez’s health insurance was paid for a time from political donations.

Chavez put it better than anyone else could, “I guess you could call it the family business.” A family business indeed!

PS-I’m excited about guest blogging this week on Swampland. I’ll be looking to your comments for ideas on what to write about.