CREW Files Ethics Complaint Against Sen. John McCain Over Robocalls in Five States Paid for by NRSC
Washington, D.C. - Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for using National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) funds to pay for robocalls in five other senators’ home states, urging passage of his motion to send healthcare legislation back to the Senate Finance Committee.
Sen. McCain reportedly recorded a series of robocalls urging Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) to support his motion. A spokeswoman for the NRSC said the calls were being made statewide and targeted independent voters.
The script for the Arkansas call read:
On Monday I introduced the first Republican amendment to the massive health care bill, which would send the bill back to the Senate Finance Committee and stop the Democrats from cutting vital Medicare coverage for our seniors. I need Sen. Blanche Lincoln to join me in this effort. If you agree with me, please go to our website at www.healthcaretaskforce.org and sign a petition to Sen. Lincoln urging her to join my effort to fight a Washington DC government takeover of your health care.
CREW’s complaint alleges Sen. McCain violated Senate Rule 38, which prohibits senators from maintaining “unofficial office accounts,” meaning they cannot use private donations to support official senate activities and expenses. By urging voters to call their senators to urge them to support his motion, Sen. McCain was engaged in grassroots lobbying. This activity clearly was related to Sen. McCain's official duties. By using an outside entity’s funds -- those of the NRSC -- to pay for expenses related to his official duties, Sen. McCain violated Senate rules.
Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, said “The rules are clear: if Sen. McCain wanted to lobby voters in an effort to see his motion passed he should have paid for the calls himself. Ethics rules are not optional; all the rules apply all the time, not just the ones senators like and not just when it is convenient to follow them.” Sloan continued, “The Senate Ethics Committee should investigate the funding for the calls and if the NRSC in fact paid for them, sanction Sen. McCain appropriately.”
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 David Merchant at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org