Watchdog group files ethical complaint accusing Pelosi, AOC of abusing government resources

 January 23, 2024

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) filed an ethical complaint against multiple members of Congress including Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), saying that they abused government resources for personal benefit. 

FACT filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Sean Casten (D-IL), Greg Casar (D-TX), Maxwell Frost (D-FL), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Ritchie Torres (D-NY).

All of the above are accused of linking official government resources to their campaign accounts, which violates federal law and House ethics rules regulating the social media activity of Congress.

The lawmakers “have all published numerous social media posts on their campaign accounts either using official government resources or re-posting official government content, including official photographs and video, work product, and official social media posts,” the complaint stated.

Social media problems

The problem is that lawmakers are increasingly mingling official social media and their campaign accounts. Not only does this make their campaigns look like they are officially sanctioned, but it gives them an unfair advantage over challengers who do not have access to those resources.

“Though to some it may seem like a simple thing on the surface, the Members choosing to break this law do it for a reason — it advantages them politically. The various codes governing elected officials’ behavior all purposefully — and wisely — prevent Members from blatantly leveraging their currently held office to either get reelected or to use their position to gain a future position,” the letter said.

The complaint provided 91 pages of evidence of the watchdog group's claims.

“This is not an isolated incident. These violations are rampant and obvious, and clearly the OCE’s failure to act has encouraged continued violations. This failure has also incentivized these Members to use House proceedings for political campaigning rather than doing what is in the best interest of the country,” FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold said.

Taxpayers footing the bill

She pointed out that taxpayers are paying for the advantages they are getting illegally.

It is not the first time FACT has filed similar complaints against lawmakers.

It's difficult enough for new faces to get elected to Congress without giving incumbents even more advantages such as being able to use official resources for their campaigns.

Incumbents already have tremendous advantages including an existing donor list, a track record showing their accomplishments in office, and official connections.

The power of incumbency

In the 2022 election, over 94% of incumbents were re-elected, which shows the tremendous advantage of incumbency.

FACT seems to be trying to prevent the playing field from becoming even more skewed.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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