Washington, D.C. —Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) for violating House ethics rules by using campaign funds to pay for a trip to England last fall unrelated to any campaign activities.
In its most recent report to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), Rep. Gohmert’s campaign committee listed expenses related to a trip the congressman took to England in November and December of 2014, including $5,451.39 to the five-star Andaz Liverpool Street hotel in London, $396.12 to the Old Bank Hotel in Oxford, and $234.54 for a taxi ride in Cambridgeshire. While in England, Rep. Gohmert held speaking engagements with groups including the Cambridge Union Society, the Rothermere American Institute, the Federalist and Henry Jackson Societies, and a joint group from the U.K. House of Lords and House of Commons.
“Rep. Gohmert’s legendary tirades may put him in high demand for public speaking engagements, but that doesn’t give him license to bill a luxury London vacation to his campaign,” said Anne Weismann, CREW’s Interim Executive Director. “The congressman can’t credibly claim that speeches made to those who can’t vote for him served the purpose of getting him reelected.”
House rules prohibit members from using campaign funds to pay expenses that are not related to a campaign or political purpose. Travel expenditures can be paid for with campaign funds only when the primary purpose of the trip “serves a bona fide campaign or political purpose.” Rep. Gohmert’s trip, which included speaking engagements unrelated to his campaign activities and for which he did not file an Expenditure Report Concerning Official Foreign Travel with the Clerk of the House, satisfied personal obligations, not campaign purposes.
Rep. Gohmert’s violations are similar to those of a former colleague, ex-Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ). Rep. Andrews charged his campaign $13,000 for expenses related to a family trip to Scotland, where he attended a donor’s wedding. He also used campaign funds to pay for a party celebrating his daughter’s graduation from college.
“The Ethics Committee may have let Rep. Andrews get away, but it shouldn’t do the same with Rep. Gohmert. Until members face real consequences for treating their campaign accounts like personal piggybanks, these violations will continue,” Weismann added.
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