An ethics watchdog has filed an ethics complaint against 10 Democratic lawmakers, claiming that they are using public resources for partisan political purposes.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust said the Democrats “repeatedly” used official resources for political gain, according to a news release on its website, naming Democratic Reps. Nancy Pelosi of California, Cori Bush of Missouri, Jamaal Bowman of New York, Sean Casten of Illinois, Greg Casar of Texas, Maxwell Alejandro Frost of Florida, Ted Lieu of California, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Ritchie Torres of New York.
Although Democratic Rep. Ayanna Presley of Massachusetts was not mentioned in the release, exhibits of her allegedly using official resources for political gain were included in the examples filed with the complaint.
“The law at issue is simple,” the release said, noting that government resources cannot be used for “campaign or political purposes.”
The release said that “official House photographs and video, government buildings, a Member’s official website and social media accounts, and anything created by government employees” are considered off-limits.
“The rules additionally reiterate that campaign social media accounts cannot contain any official content or resources and cannot re-post official social media posts,” the release said.
However, FACT said the Democrats regularly use official resources or content on social media, honing in on X, formerly known as Twitter.
To make its point, the complaint attached 91 pages of examples.
One example showed Pelosi using House video on a campaign website. Another showed Omar using C-Span footage on her Instagram account, while another example showed Pressley speaking on the House floor in a post on X.
“These violations are rampant and obvious, and clearly the OCE’s failure to act has encouraged continued violations. This failure has also incentivized these Members to use House proceedings for political campaigning rather than doing what is in the best interest of the country,” Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT, said in the release.
“Likewise, it is also clear why these Members are doing this, it’s for a political advantage and one that is paid for by the taxpayers. The OCE has both the authority and a clear responsibility to ensure each ethics violation is dealt with swiftly. Not doing so both permits clear violations to continue and erodes the public’s trust in the OCE itself,” she said.
“Currently, numerous Members are using official House resources for political purposes and are doing so both repeatedly and publicly,” FACT wrote in a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics.
“The law quite clearly forbids this, yet a handful of Members continue to do so. The most obvious violations are Members using official government resources to campaign on their political social media accounts or using official government platforms to campaign,” the letter said.
“The failure to address this egregious practice has permitted these Members to continue committing violations to this day with impunity. Though to some it may seem like a simple thing on the surface, the Members choosing to break this law do it for a reason — it advantages them politically,” the letter of complaint said.
The complaint said legislators break the rules because there is no punishment for doing so.
“Not acting upon obvious violations not only permits them to continue but it erodes the public’s trust,” the complaint said.
“In fact, these Members’ campaign social media accounts demonstrate that they consistently use official resources for political purposes and have used numerous different types of taxpayer-funded resources for their political campaigns,” the complaint said.
“For instance, the examples previously provided to the OCE and the attached examples include every type of official resource identified above: use of official House photographs, official House floor and committee proceeding videos, official House work product and press releases, government buildings, and re-posts of official House social media accounts for political purposes,” the letter said.