FACT Calls for Investigation into Rep. Tony Cardenas for Accepting Lobbyist Contribution
Rep. Cardenas Appears to have Accepted a Contribution from Lobbyist Violating House Rules
Washington, D.C. --- The non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), has filed a complaint requesting the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) investigate Congressman Tony Cardenas of California, to determine whether Cardenas’ acceptance of financial contributions via Cardenas’ legal defense fund from a registered lobbyist is in violation of House rules prohibiting legal defense funds from accepting contributions from registered lobbyists.
House ethics rules permit a Member to create a legal defense fund to cover the costs of specific types of legal cases so long as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct gives prior written permission. The fund may not accept contributions greater than $5,000 per year and cannot accept any contribution from a registered lobbyist. A legal expense fund shall be terminated at the earlier of either the fulfillment of the legal expense funds’ purpose or the end of the time period for which the legal expense fund was created.
In 2018, Rep. Cardenas set up a legal defense fund to cover costs when Cardenas was sued for sexual abuse. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2019, however Cardenas continued accepting contributions to his legal defense fund for years afterwards. In 2021, one contributor named “Catherine Pino” made a $2,000 contribution in February 2021 and a $3,000 contribution in November 2021. Cardenas’ legal defense fund did not return these contributions.
Pino is the founder and co-CEO of the lobbying firm D&P Strategies, which is located at the same address listed on the contribution to Cardenas’ legal defense fund. According to prior lobbying disclosure reports, Pino identified herself as a lobbyist and continues to be listed as a lobbyist today.
“A legal defense fund is barred from accepting contributions from a registered lobbyist, but in this case it appears that Rep. Cardenas’ legal defense fund did just that. Cardenas’ legal defense fund accepted Catherine Pino’s contributions the same time she designated herself as a lobbyist. We urge the Board to immediately investigate whether Representative Cardenas, through his legal defense fund, accepted a contribution from a registered lobbyist in violation of House Ethics rules,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT.
A full copy of the FACT complaint can be found HERE.
FACT is a nonprofit organization promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/