Watchdog FACT Calls for Ethics Investigation of Kirsten Gillibrand
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Complaint Maintains New York Senator Used State of Union Video Footage to Improperly Solicit Campaign Cash
The non-partisan ethics watchdog group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), filed a complaint today with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics against Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) for using footage of herself on the House floor during the President’s State of the Union address to improperly solicit campaign donations.
On February 5th, 2019, Senator Gillibrand’s twitter account posted an official video of the Senator on the House floor during the President’s State of the Union. The tweet asked followers to “chip in $5 so we can put an end to this.” Federal law and Senate ethics rules both prohibit use of taxpayer-payer funded resources for political purposes. Ethics rules for members of the House of Representatives are the same and cite taxpayer-funded resources that cannot be used for campaign or other political purposes to include “broadcast coverage and recordings of the House floor proceedings.”
“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.
This is not the first time FACT has asked for an investigation into this type of violation. Back in June of 2016, FACT asked the House Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate several Members of Congress who sent fundraising emails while on the House floor that discussed the sit-in they were staging on gun control and asked for campaign contributions. Those solicitations included images from the House Floor. USA Today: House Democrats Face Ethics Complaints for Fundraising off Sit-In.
A copy of the full Gillibrand complaint can be read here.
FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/.