FACT Calls for Investigation into Rep. Val Demings
Demings apparently violated House rules by campaigning during official House proceedings
Washington, D.C.— May 10, 2022— On Monday, May 9, the non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), filed a complaint requesting the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) investigate Representative Val Demings (FL) for abusing the COVID-19 rules permitting virtual attendance at House committee proceedings to simultaneously attend a campaign event during an official House proceeding.
On April 5, 2022, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing for the markup of the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, which Rep. Demings remotely attended. At the same time, and during the actual committee proceedings, Demings also remotely spoke at a political event held over Zoom to promote her Senate candidacy. Demings’ remote attendance can be seen in the video recordings of both events.
Demings even apologized while speaking at the virtual political event because she was waiting for her name to be called to vote in the House proceeding. She stated, “Of course I’ve been looking so forward to being with the Duval Caucus, and here I am stuck in a markup in Judiciary, so I apologize for the background noise, but of course I am also listening to the hearing there, so I know when it is time for me to vote.” Following this, Demings then failed to mute her microphone while Zooming into the House proceeding and can be heard speaking to the individuals at the political event. The embarrassing moment took place during the recorded vote until the Committee Chairman had to tell her that she was unmuted.
The House ethics rules require Members to “conduct themselves at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House.” This is a broad and “comprehensive provision” that is applied to any conduct taken in a Member’s official capacity. Specific House rules require a clear separation between official business and political activity, and they only permit proxy voting and remote attendance based upon the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The ability to virtually attend committee proceedings was put in place so the House could continue conducting necessary business during the public health emergency and for no other reason. However, Rep. Demings' dual attendance at the events suggests that she chose to virtually attend the committee hearing, not for reasons related to COVID-19, but rather to speak at a campaign event. Her campaigning during an official House proceeding also apparently violates the separation between official government business and political activity required under the ethics rules. We encourage the Office of Congressional ethics to immediately investigate Representative Demings and impose the proper penalties if found guilty," said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT.
A full copy of the 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/