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FACT Calls for Investigation into Sen. Heinrich for Directly Linking Official Actions to Campaign Contributions

Evidence Shows Sen. Heinrich's Actions Violated Senate Ethics Rules


Washington, D.C.— April 29th — Today, the non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), filed a complaint requesting the Senate Select Committee on Ethics investigate and take appropriate enforcement actions on Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico. The Senator appears to have violated Senate Ethics Rules by directly linking official action with solicitations for campaign contributions. 


On multiple occasions, Senator Heinrich sent email solicitations promoting legislation that he had introduced, followed by asking the recipients to support the legislation and to make a campaign contribution on the Senator’s official campaign website. This even rose to the level of asking readers to “co-sponsor” the legislation by selecting a donation amount of $10, $35, $50, $100, $250, $500, or $1,000—a designation that of course is wholly fictitious. The emails can be seen in the complaint linked below.


Senate Ethics Rules specifically state that Senators may not directly link official action to solicitations for campaign contributions. By employing this fundraising tactic, Heinrich signals to potential supporters that his official actions can be directly influenced by campaign contributions. This is exactly the kind of appearance of impropriety that the Senate Ethics Rules aim to prohibit. This particular solicitation gimmick improperly incentivizes Senators to take official action based on their estimation of what is likeliest to raise the most campaign funds—a dangerous scheme that the law clearly intended to prevent.


“Federal law and Senate ethics rules do not allow Senators to fundraise based upon their official duties, in part because it would lead to the public rightfully questioning whether the Senator's primary concern was their political campaign. In a case like this, where there is literally a fictional offer to 'co-sponsor' legislation along with a request for a campaign contribution, it clearly crosses the line. It is important these laws are enforced so that Senators are not incentivized to treat all official business as a campaign fundraising opportunity rather than acting on the merits of issues," said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT.


A full copy of the complaint, with Sen. Heinrich's emails, 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/   

 

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