Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.), who announced last week that he will not seek reelection after spending 24 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, will no longer be able to pay his wife hundreds of thousands of dollars from campaign funds once he officially departs from Congress.
Soraida Gutierrez, his wife, has collected more than $430,000 from Gutierrez for Congress, Luis's campaign committee, since 2010. Soraida is the top recipient of expenditures this year.
Soraida, who was a registered lobbyist in Illinois prior to appearing on the campaign's payroll, has been listed as the campaign's office manager, fundraiser, and treasurer for the past seven years.
Gutierrez's campaign committee has reported $77,838.69 in operating expenditures from the beginning of January to the end of September. Soraida has received seven checks for $6,000 each—or $42,000 total—during this time, meaning that she has collected more than half of his campaign's disbursements.
The second largest expenditure from Gutierrez's campaign this year is a $22,000 donation to the Puerto Rican Relief Fund, which is not included in the committee's operating expenditures total, but is rather marked under other disbursements.
Gutierrez has said he is leaving Washington to focus on the rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico, although some have speculated that the abrupt retirement raises questions about his motives and that he has made a "grand inside play," Politico reported.
Despite Soraida being paid generously for fundraising services from the campaign, the committee has raised only $2,812.86 in total individual contributions this year. Other campaign committees have added $17,000 in donations to Gutierrez.
This is not the first time Soraida has been the top recipient of cash from her husband's campaign.
When Soraida first joined the campaign in 2010, she was paid $44,000 from its war chest. In 2012, Soraida's payments rose to $93,000. In 2014, Soraida pulled in $110,000. In 2016, she collected $125,856. Soraida was the top recipient of cash from Gutierrez for Congress every election cycle since first appearing on its payroll seven years ago.
Gutierrez also paid his two daughters a combined $5,000 for a fundraising project and bookkeeping between 2004 and 2009.
Members of Congress have been allowed to place family on campaign payrolls since a 2001 Federal Election Commission opinion requested by former Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (Ill.).
After the FEC gave the green light for federal politicians to pay relatives from their committees, Jackson Jr. went on to pay his wife's firm hundreds of thousands of dollars from his committee.
Jackson and his wife later pleaded guilty to using $750,000 in campaign funds for personal use.
Gutierrez did not return a request for comment on the payments to his wife by press time.