Dems Say GOP Broke Ethics Rules Using Video Trackers in House Office Buildings
WASHINGTON — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is accusing its GOP counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, of violating ethics rules by sending trackers to video record members of Congress in House office buildings.
The DCCC filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics on Monday alleging the NRCC and its chairman, Minnesota GOP Rep. Tom Emmer, violated House rules barring lawmakers from using official resources for political purposes. Twitter accounts for the NRCC and some of the committee’s spokespeople posted videos of Democrats in House office building hallways being questioned by someone in December and January.
Trackers, or campaign staffers who take video of candidates and pepper them with questions, are common. But the Capitol complex has been considered off-limits for trackers in the past. The DCCC contended in its complaint that trackers on the Capitol grounds are not just frowned upon, they violate the rules.
The complaint cited a rule in the House Ethics manual that states, “The House buildings, and House rooms and offices — including district offices — are supported with official funds and hence are considered official resources. Accordingly, as a general rule, they may not be used for the conduct of campaign or political activities.”
DCCC Executive Director Lucinda Guinn said in a statement, “Congressman Emmer and the NRCC broke the rules. They used taxpayer-funded facilities for political purposes. And they did it while harassing members of Congress who were doing work for their constituents.”
NRCC spokesman Chris Pack responded to the complaint Monday night, writing in an email, “So the DCCC is using official government resources for a political publicity stunt where they accuse the NRCC of using official government resources for a political publicity stunt? Got it.”
It is notable that the DCCC filed its complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, or OCE, which is a nonpartisan entity that reviews allegations of misconduct involving House staff and lawmakers and refers cases to the House Ethics Committee. The office has jurisdiction to investigate alleged violations of a “law, rule, regulation or other standard of conduct.”
Democrats have fought to protect funding for OCE. Filing with OCE, as opposed to directly with the House Ethics Committee, could mean the findings of an investigation would be made public. However, unlike the Ethics Committee, OCE does not have subpoena power and cannot force people to comply with an investigation.
OCE examines each complaint but does not always launch an investigation. When a complaint is filed with OCE, two OCE board members first authorize a preliminary review if there is a “reasonable basis to believe that a violation may have occurred,” according to the OCE website. The preliminary review would be completed in 30 days. Three board members can then authorize a second-phase review, which is completed in 45 days with the possibility of a two-week extension.
The OCE board then decides whether there is “substantial reason to believe a violation occurred,” and if it should be referred for further review by the House Ethics Committee, which is made up of an equal number of Democratic and Republican lawmakers. If the investigation is referred to the Ethics Committee, OCE’s findings from its investigation are made public 45 days later.
Katherine Tully-McManus and Chris Marquette contributed to this report.
©2020 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved
Visit CQ Roll Call at www.rollcall.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
AUSTIN, Texas — A national lawyers group on Monday called for professional licensing bodies to investigate what it called a “breach of ethical rules” by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and 17 of his counterparts in red states who sued in the Supreme Court last week... Read More
More than 200 Cherokees and other Native Americans have signed a letter urging Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren to fully retract her past claims to being Native and help dispel false beliefs held by many white people that they have American Indian ancestry. The letter cites... Read More
WASHINGTON - A Washington-based advocacy group for government ethics is asking the Justice Department to investigate the U.S. attorney general for his statements about the criminal conviction of an associate of President Donald Trump. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says Attorney General William Barr... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is accusing its GOP counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, of violating ethics rules by sending trackers to video record members of Congress in House office buildings. The DCCC filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics on... Read More
WASHINGTON - Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., announced Sunday that she would resign from Congress after allegations that she engaged in affairs with a congressional aide and a campaign staff member became public earlier this month. Hill announced the resignation in a letter to constituents, saying she... Read More