Ethics Watchdog Calls for Probe of U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath
Updated: May 31, 2019
FACT Says Georgia Congresswoman Improperly Solicited Office Space from City
Washington, D.C.—May 29, 2019—The non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), today, has asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate U.S. Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA) for improperly soliciting and accepting free congressional office space from the City of Brookhaven, Georgia. Although the space was temporary, House ethics rules strictly prohibit Members from soliciting “anything of value.”
According to a media report, shortly after she took office, Congresswoman McBath “approached” the City of Brookhaven for temporary congressional District office space. According to Brookhaven’s spokesman, “to the best of my knowledge, we’re not charging her or her office anything.” While Brookhaven acknowledged that the free rent was given to hopefully establish a good relationship with the newly elected McBath, these actions clearly ran afoul of House ethics rules.
According to the House Ethics Manual, Members of Congress cannot solicit “anything of value,” including office space. According to published reports, “the community center’s published rates are $35 per hour for residents and $70 per hour for non-residents.” The complaint further notes that while Members can accept free office space from a federal, state or local government agency if offered, “a permissible gift becomes impermissible if solicited.”
“Solicitation bans exist to prevent potential conflicts of interest from arising between elected officials and outside groups or entities and maintain citizens’ confidence in an impartial government,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). “I am pleased that public concern was raised about Congresswoman McBath’s disregard for a very simple and straightforward rule governing Member behavior.”
“Regardless of whether the free rent was given for a few hours, days or weeks, just the appearance of impropriety that these kinds of actions can create is what contributes to the erosion of the public’s trust in government and government officials. For this reason, we are asking for an immediate investigation into this matter,” Arnold added.
A full copy of the 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: www.factdc.org.