The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a non-partisan ethics watchdog organization, filed a complaint on Friday with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) requesting an investigation into Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) for allegedly violating House Ethics rules that prohibit members from using official taxpayer-funded resources for political purposes.
The complaint filed with the OCE noted that congressional members, like Schrader, must obey the ethics rules, which require a distinct separation between campaign and official acts:
[A] Member is prohibited from using any official resources for any campaign and political purposes. Official resources include anything funded by taxpayers, such as a Member’s official press release, website and social media accounts. This rule protects taxpayer-funded resources from abuse and theft, and it addresses the public concern that incumbents wrongfully use government funds to run for reelection and only take official action for political purposes and not for the good of the country. [Emphasis added.]
The complaint showed that the representative’s campaign recently released a digital ad titled “Veterinarian” that was paid for by Kurt Schrader for Congress.
The ad showed two headlines — Bipartisan Schrader Bill to Strengthen Career & Technical Education Passes with Unanimous Support from June 22, 2017, and Schrader Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Keep Drug Costs Down from January 31, 2019 — that both appeared to have originated from his official taxpayer-funded congressional office.
When the ad showed the headline, Bipartisan Schrader Bill to Strengthen Career & Technical Education Passes with Unanimous Support, the complaint stated:
At 0:19, the campaign advertisement displays the press release headline “Bipartisan Schrader Bill to Strengthen Career & Technical Education Passes with Unanimous Support” (citing the date of June 22, 2017). This headline appears to come directly from Schrader’s official congressional press release posted on his official congressional website on June 22, 2017:
And when the ad showed the headline, Schrader Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Keep Drug Costs Down, the complaint stated:
At 0:14, the campaign advertisement displays the headline “Schrader Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Keep Drug Costs Down” (citing the date Jan. 31, 2019). This headline appears to have been taken from Schrader’s official congressional press release posted on his official congressional website on January 31, 2019:
The complaint also noted that “Schrader is required to abide by all ethics rules and the House Ethics Manual,” also pointing out that the FACT has recently filed another complaint with the OCE that requested an investigation into his stock transactions after he allegedly failed to adequately disclose up to tens of thousands of dollars in stocks, which reportedly violated federal law.
Breitbart News reported in February that Schrader, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, had failed to adequately disclose up to $30,000 in stock sales from Charter Communications, Inc. and AON PLC within the 45-day deadline required by the STOCK Act of 2012.
The STOCK Act requires Schrader to submit a periodic transaction report with the clerk in the House of Representatives within 30 to 45 days of stock transitions over $1,000, made on behalf of themselves or their spouses, to put a check on members of Congress and to prevent allegations of insider trading.
Schrader’s case is a good example of a Congress member whose position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee — that has jurisdiction over “electronic communications and the Internet,” “privacy, cybersecurity, and data security,” and “consumer protection and product safety” — gives him the potential to influence bills that could impact Charter Communications, Inc. and AON PLC stock prices.
Interestingly enough, at the time, the congressman’s office declined to answer questions from Business Insider about whether his investments into the two companies posed a conflict of interest with his committee responsibilities.
FACT’s Executive Director Kendra Arnold summed up her ethics complaint with these words, “It is troubling when our Members cannot even follow the most basic and straightforward ethics rules, and repeated violations of these laws indicate a disregard for them as a whole.”
“The Office of Congressional Ethics is responsible for ensuring each Representative fulfills the public trust inherent to the office and complies with the House’s ethical standards,” Arnold continued. “Therefore, we urge the [OCE] to immediately investigate and stop Representative Schrader’s ongoing ethics violations related to his campaign advertisement.”
Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.
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