Eric Swalwell’s Pay for Hire Problem

CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | Just after he was sworn into office in January 2013, East Bay Congressman Eric Swalwell hired the daughter of a wealthy donor after she also contributed to his winning 2012 election campaign, records show. In all, the family of William “Bill” Watkins — who is the former CEO of Seagate Technologies and Bridgelux, a high-tech LED manufacturer in Livermore, and now leads Imergy Power Systems, a Fremont energy storage startup — has contributed a total of $25,200 to Swalwell’s campaigns, including a $5,000 donation to a PAC that has ties to the moderate Democrat. The donations also included a $2,500 contribution that Watkins’ daughter, Kelly Watkins, made to Swalwell before he hired her to fill a taxpayer-funded job in his Washington, DC office.

According to campaign finance reports, Watkins himself donated $7,600 to Swalwell, while his wife, Denise Watkins, contributed another $5,100. In addition, their other daughter, Casey Watkins, donated $2,500 to Swalwell. After the donations were made, Swalwell hired Kelly Watkins to a $30,000-a-year job in the nation’s capital. She now works in one of his East Bay offices.

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