Watchdog Group Wants Ethics Investigation of Gillibrand

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Posted: Feb 11, 2019 4:08 PM
Watchdog Group Wants Ethics Investigation of Gillibrand

Source: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, Pool

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a non-partisan ethics watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics on Monday against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). At issue is the senator's using "footage of herself on the House floor during the President’s State of the Union address to improperly solicit campaign donations," the group explained in a new statement.

During Trump's second State of the Union speech last Tuesday, Gillibrand's Twitter account posted a message asking followers to “chip in $5 so we can put an end to this.” It included official House video footage of a joint session of the United States Congress. FACT cited federal law and Senate ethics rules that both prohibit the use of taxpayer-funded resources that cannot be used for campaign or other political purposes to include “broadcast coverage and recordings of the House floor proceedings.”

She later removed the tweet. But, as FACT notes, that doesn't exonerate her.

“This is one of the most simple and straightforward ethics rules, and any violation is troubling because the Member has put politics above the law,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust.”

FACT’s complaint notes that while the violation occurred in the House of Representatives, “Senate Ethics Rules prohibit Senators from soliciting campaign contributions using official taxpayer-funded resources, regardless of whether it is House or Senate footage.”

“While it appears Senator Gillibrand has removed the fundraising tweet, it does not excuse her blatant disregard for the law. These laws exist to ensure that the work of Congress on behalf of the America people, and the resources used to carry out that work, cannot be exploited for political gain,” Arnold added.

Gillibrand is included in the batch of Democrats who recently threw their hat in the 2020 presidential ring.