Press

PRESS
May 06, 2008

CREW Asks for House Ethics Investigation into Members’ Illegal Use of Office Resources for Campaigns

Earlier today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, more commonly known as the Ethics Committee, asking the Committee to take immediate action in the face of the developing crisis of members illegally using official resources for campaign purposes.

Last week, Laura Flores, a former aide to Reps. Jane Harman (D-CA) and Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) received a reduced sentence for embezzlement in return for her cooperation in a probe into whether members of Congress have been using congressional staff and resources for campaign purposes. Press reports indicate the Department of Justice is investigating whether members of Congress have used phones, supplies and staff time for campaign purposes and whether staff have been directed to perform personal errands on government time.

In 2006, the FBI began investigating allegations made by former congressional staffers to Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA) that they were forced to work on campaign matters during office hours. Similar allegations have been made by former staffers to Reps. David Scott (D-GA) and Gary Miller (R-CA).

Despite the burgeoning number of stories suggesting that members may be routinely forcing staffers to illegally engage in campaign work – and firing some who go public with such allegations – the House Ethics Committee has taken no action.

CREW has asked the Committee to proactively begin investigating the scope of this problem and require members of Congress to attend mandatory training sessions on the proper use of staff and congressional research. CREW has further asked the Committee to establish a procedure allowing staffers to file complaints about such conduct without fear of retaliation.

CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said, “Once again, a major scandal is brewing on Capitol Hill and the House ethics committee is sitting it out. The question is, when -- if ever -- is the Ethics Committee going to prove itself more than a paper tiger?”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Derrick Crowe at 202.408.5565 or dcrowe@citizensforethics.org.

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