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Ethics Watchdog FACT Urges Investigation into Rep. Katie Porter

Rep. Katie Porter Appears to Have Abused Official Taxpayer-Funded Resources for Political Purposes

Washington, D.C. --- February 22, 2023 --- Today, the non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), filed a complaint requesting the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) investigate whether Congresswoman Katie Porter of California abused official resources for political purposes.

In 2022, Rep. Porter’s office used taxpayer funds to run blatantly political ads, which contained content that mirrored ads from Porter’s congressional campaign. Additionally, both Porter's campaign and Congressional office paid the same advertising vendor: From June to August 2022 Porter’s congressional office paid over $130,500 to Wavelength Strategy, a digital ad vendor for Democratic campaigns. From February to November 2022, Porter’s campaign paid over $1.6 million to Wavelength Strategy.

House Members are prohibited from using taxpayer funded resources for campaign or political purposes. This rule stems from federal law, which states that “appropriations shall be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made.” One official resource that cannot be used for campaign or political purposes is “official communications.” Any communication paid for by taxpayers “may only be used for official Congressional business” and cannot be used for any political purpose including: no campaign content or electioneering, no content developed using campaign resources, no grassroots lobbying, and no content lauding a Member on a personal or political basis. Finally, no unsolicited mass communications, including digital advertisements regardless of cost, may be distributed within 90 days before a primary or general election.

“For anyone who takes the time to view both sets of ads they will plainly see the ads run by taxpayers were often indistinguishable from those run by Porter's campaign, clearly demonstrating these were political messages. The laws at issue in this case are extremely important because not only do they protect taxpayer funds from abuse, but they address the public perception that incumbents are simply using their office to run for reelection. The reason for that perception is quite evident in Rep. Porter’s actions. Moreover, her use of official resources in this case does not reflect credibly on the House,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT.

You can access all of Rep. Porter’s Campaign and Congressional ads here.

A full copy of the complaint can be found here.

FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas.

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