Ethics complaint cites “egregious misuse of official House resources for political purposes”
Today, the DCCC formally requested that the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) initiate an investigation into the NRCC and NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer for “egregious misuse of official House resources for political purposes”.
The DCCC complaint specifically requests that OCE investigate multiple instances in which the NRCC appears to have had its employees or others on its behalf chase and badger Democratic members of Congress in House office buildings, while the Members carried out the people’s business. As the NRCC is chaired by a Member of Congress, these campaign activities in House office buildings are a clear violation of the House Ethics Manual.
“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,” said DCCC Executive Director Lucinda Guinn. “Sadly this kind of behavior is par for the course for an organization that has spent this election cycle publishing racist ads, denigrating servicemembers, attacking spouses of members of Congress, and disseminating disinformation. I wish we could say we expected better. But Emmer and the NRCC are clearly committed to dragging their own politics even deeper into the gutter.”
Because of ethics rules prohibiting the use of House office buildings for political purposes, for a long time, neither Democratic and Republican party committees would allow their trackers to film footage congressional office buildings.
The House Ethics Manual explicitly states that members (and their proxies) are prohibited from using official buildings for campaign purposes.
House Buildings, and House Rooms and Offices. 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. Thus, for example, a Member may not film a campaign commercial or have campaign photos taken in a congressional office.
From the DCCC’s complaint:
The House Ethics Manual explains that “official resources of the House must . . . be used for the performance of official business of the House, and hence . . . may not be used for campaign or political purposes.” The term “official resources” refers to any good or service paid for using federally-appropriated funds, including staff time and materials created by official staff on official time. “Official resources” also includes “[t]he House buildings, and House rooms and offices—including district offices,” which “are supported with official funds and hence are considered official resources.” As a result, House buildings, rooms, and offices “may not be used for the conduct of campaign or political activities.” For instance, no Member or employee thereof may film a campaign commercial or take campaign photos in a congressional office. It makes no difference if the campaign commercial or photos are for the Member’s own re-election, another Member’s re-election, or a political party committee.
Thus, Representative Emmer, as Chair of NRCC, may not allow NRCC staff and/or agents to engage in political activities in House buildings.
The full complaint can be read here.