The Republican National Committee is paying top members of the House GOP to vote with Democrats, according to internal party documents obtained by The Washington Times.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) and other top House GOP leaders are paying top GOP officials to vote to approve or reject the tax plan, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and other Senate GOP leaders have paid top House Republicans to vote “no” on the plan, according the documents obtained Friday.
The practice was first reported by The Hill and confirmed by the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is run by the party.
House GOP leadership is seeking to increase the number of top House lawmakers to 20, according a letter obtained by the Times.
The GOP’s top elected officials also are being paid to play key roles in the tax package, including senior staff and policy aides, a top House Republican aide said.
The aide added that the arrangement is part of a broader effort to create more transparency around how the party operates, a practice that has been criticized by some Republicans.
“It is not uncommon for senior Republicans to be paid to speak on issues important to their constituents and the House,” the aide said in an email.
“It’s also not uncommon to see top officials from other parties receive compensation for speaking on a topic of their choosing.”
The Times obtained the letters through an open records request, and said the payments are being made despite the fact that most House Republicans are not in office or have no leadership role.
The letter said the GOP has not asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate the payments, and instead asked the committee to look into whether lawmakers were getting a “fair share” of the benefits.
“This practice is inconsistent with our values as a governing party,” the letter said.
“As the committee reviews this matter, it is our hope that this will prompt House Ethics to investigate and report back to the membership on the proper conduct of our elected officials.”
The House Ethics committee has yet to publicly respond to the Times request.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was not included among the 20 House Republicans that have been paid by the GOP, the Times said.
House Minority Leader Rep. Joe Crowley (D.N.Y.) said in a statement that the practice was unacceptable and “unacceptable” and called for ethics investigations into the payments.
“We have long been a party that has stood for fairness and accountability, and we are disappointed that some of our most powerful elected officials are receiving compensation from the GOP,” Crowley said.
Republicans have long defended their payments to their top members.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) has said that top House leaders are not paid to do campaign work.
Democrats have criticized the practice, saying it is unfair and that it violates the rules.
“The GOP has made it clear that it is not going to be part of the process and the process is clear: No one is paid,” Rep. Xavier Becerra (D.-Calif.) said on the House floor Friday.
“And no one is paying to sit on committees that will ultimately be voted on by the American people.
It is outrageous that the GOP is paying these top officials to be members of committees that have no authority or oversight over them.
I hope we can get the Ethics Committee on the case and get to the bottom of this, because these officials need to be held to the highest standards of integrity.”