Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint against Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics after reviewing a fundraising solicitation by the senator on behalf of Catholic Advocate.
In the letter, Sen. Brownback asks “faithful citizens” to sign a “Stop Freedom of Choice Act” petition and make a financial contribution to the organization. The letter also calls into question the faith of five Catholic senators, claiming it is impossible to be both Catholic and pro-choice.
In 1978, the ethics committee issued an advisory opinion barring senators from using facsimiles of Senate letterhead for fundraising solicitations to preclude recipients from thinking they are receiving an official communication from the Senate. The ethics committee concluded that sending such letters constitutes improper conduct which reflects upon the Senate.
By deliberately attempting to mislead recipients of Catholic Advocate’s fundraising appeal into believing they have received a letter from Sen. Brownback in his official capacity, Sen. Brownback has engaged in improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate.
Last year, the House ethics committee agreed to investigate whether House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel (D-NY) improperly solicited funds for City College of New York on official stationary.
CREW’s executive director Melanie Sloan stated, “By sending a fundraising appeal on what looks like official Senate stationary rather on Catholic Advocate’s own letterhead, Sen. Brownback has suggested his vituperative letter is sanctioned by the Senate.” Sloan continued, “How ironic that a senator would engage in blatantly unethical conduct to condemn the religious values of others. Sadly, the Senate ethics committee can’t investigate hypocrisy, but at least it can sanction those who violate Senate rules.”