Harry Reid’s Intern Seeks Donations to Work for Free

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2013-08_eac17f700e.jpgBill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images (WASHINGTON) -- Nevada college student Jessica Padron won the honor to be an intern for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Then she had to figure out how to afford the honor since the D.C. internship is not paid. Padron, 20, has resorted to crowdsourcing on Indiegogo.com to raise the $6,500 she estimates she will need for airfare, rent and food during her four-month Washington tenure.

Her bid for cash is titled Latina Leadership Fund – Dreams and Political Aspirations. With 11 days left until her Aug. 25 deadline, Padron is more than halfway to achieving her financial goal with $3,940 already donated to her cause. While Padron is still seeking donations, she has dropped mention of Reid’s office in her Indiegogo.com plea and is no longer eager to talk about her unorthodox means of getting to Washington.

She told ABC News that she “is not seeking any more press” because “there is a statute or a code of ethics that an intern or any staffer can’t use the name of the office [when fundraising]. I don’t want to break any rules,” Padron said.

Reid’s office declined to comment about their future intern. Padron’s case is not unique to Capitol Hill since most, if not all, Congressional interns work for free. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, internships that are “for the benefit of the intern” and are “similar to training which would be given in an educational environment”  can qualify as unpaid positions. The FLSA also specifies that the intern is “not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship,” but that doesn’t seem to deter Padron.

“The reason I love politics is because I love being a part of change,” Padron wrote on her petition for donations. Should Padron’s fundraising efforts fall short, the future Senate intern wrote that she is willing to take out loans in order to “take advantage of this crucial career move.”

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