Democrat Who Supports $10.10 Minimum Wage Pays His Own Employees Less

| by Ethan Brown
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Ravi Patel, currently a hotel executive in Iowa, is running for Congress next year in the Hawkeye state’s 1st congressional district, currently held by Republican Rep. Rod Blum.

Patel, a Democrat, has describes his views as a “pro-growth progressive,” and has criticized U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for not supporting a raise of the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour.

However, Patel’s hotels have advertised open positions that pay less than the amount the Democrat supports. For example, a position as a breakfast cook paid between $8.50 and $9 an hour, according to the Huffington Post.

While the advertisement was for the Residence Inn hotel in Iowa, Hawkeye Properties, run by Patel, owns the hotel and has influence over wages, among other aspects of the day-to-day operations.

A spokesman for Patel’s congressional campaign said that Patel supports a higher minimum wage and would be willing to pay his employees the $10.10 rate.

“An increase in the federal minimum wage would ensure every business across the economy plays by the same rules," Norm Sterzenbach, a spokesman for Patel's campaign, wrote to the Huffington Post. "Keeping the minimum wage artificially low penalizes the businesses that pay higher labor costs as competitors undercut them.

"Passing a livable, national minimum wage will increase wages across the board, even at higher wage jobs, because many of those jobs’ wages are pegged to the minimum wage," he added.

As the Huffington Post notes, this discrepancy does not necessarily make Patel a hypocrite. After all, many low-paying businesspeople would support a minimum wage hike. Patel's strong rhetoric on the issue, however, may be called into question in light of his company's wages.

Despite this issue, Patel’s campaign has had a strong start so far. According to Federal Election Commission filings, Patel’s campaign raised $522,351 in individual donations, India West reported.

“I think we’ve got more silos that we can tap into, but this first quarter (of the calendar year) was a brush of my network of family and friends," Patel said following the financial announcement.

Patel could be facing another wave of negative publicity in the coming weeks. According to BuzzFeed news, Patel pleaded guilty to public urination in November 2005, when he was a student at the University of Iowa. The paperwork also stated that Patel was found guilty twice for underage drinking during the same time period.

“In my teenage years, like many people, I had some growing up to do. I made some foolish, immature mistakes, I am not proud of it, but I took responsibility for my actions,” Patel said in response to the scandal.

Sources: The Huffington Post, India West, The American Bazaar, The Des Moines Register

Photo Credit: Patel for Iowa