KY-Sen: Jim Bunning and Legal Money Laundering

{First, a cheap plug for my blog Senate Guru.}

It appears that Republican Jim Bunning has found himself a lucrative side-job:

Bunning accepts the salary through the Jim Bunning Foundation, which charges baseball memorabilia companies for the senator's appearances. Bunning is not able to charge for autographs himself, because of ethics rules, but the money can go to a foundation.

Bunning has paid himself a total of $155,000 in salary from the foundation since 2001, according to disclosure documents reviewed by The Hill. He works on foundation business for an estimated one hour a week. ...

But as Bunning was being paid as the foundation's sole employee, the Jim Bunning Foundation has consistently donated less than the $20,000 the senator collects. The foundation has never given more than $19,575 in a year, according to IRS documents and documents Bunning has filed with the Senate. ...

"It's probably legal, but I think it's really questionable," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "He created a charity to allow himself to do what he otherwise couldn't do, which is taking money for signing baseballs." ...

"Members are not supposed to have second jobs," said Bill Allison, a senior researcher at the Sunlight Foundation. "It's just a little bit strange to have a foundation supposedly for charitable purposes that's paying you a salary."

"It's fine for members of Congress to have charities. It's fine for them to donate money. It's a little bizarre for them to take a salary out of that," Allison said.

Jim Bunning cannot legally accept money for autographs directly. To circumvent this ethics requirement, Bunning has set up a "charity" as an intermediary that accepts the funds that Bunning can't, and the intermediary "charity" then pays Bunning a salary (and Bunning is the sole staffer of the "charity"). Additionally, the "charity" gives relatively little money to actual charities, indicating that the primary purpose of this entity is simply to funnel money to Bunning that he can't accept directly.

On a completely unrelated note, the definition of money laundering is:

a financial transaction scheme that aims to conceal the identity, source, and destination of illicitly-obtained money.

Seriously, how is this remotely legal? How is what Bunning is doing not money laundering? If this is legal, why can't any elected official set up a "charitable organization" which hires him or her as the sole staff member, raises money (large sums of money from, coincidentally, political supporters and organizations and companies seeking favors), donates little to actual charities, and pays him or her a nice side salary for doing virtually nothing?