Watchdog Group Files Fundraising Ethics Violation Complaint Against Gillibrand

Sen. Gillibrand in New York City in 2012. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

A watchdog group filed an ethics complaint on Monday against Democratic 2020 presidential contender Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, saying she violated Senate ethics rules by using improper fundraising methods.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) filed the complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, noting that the New York Democrat sent out a tweet during President Trump’s State of the Union speech inappropriately asking for campaign donations by using footage of herself on the House floor during the speech.

“Chip in $5 so we can put an end to this,” Gillibrand’s tweet said.

The watchdog requested that the committee “immediately investigate” Gillibrand, who announced her run for president last month and vowed to take on institutional racism, corruption and greed in Washington, and special interests.

“Presumably Senator Gillibrand is aware of her ethics violation because she later removed the tweet after raising funds in violation of ethics rules, all of which should be returned,” FACT wrote in its letter.

The “solicitation of contributions” and other campaign activities may not be conducted with official resources, congressional ethics rules stipulate.

“The use of any tape duplication of radio or television coverage of the proceedings of the Senate for political campaign purposes is strictly prohibited,” read the Senate ethics standards.

Likewise, the House ethics rules state that “broadcast coverage and recordings of House floor proceedings may not be used for any political purpose.”

“This is a straightforward violation,” FACT said. “Senate Ethics Rules prohibit Senators from solicitating campaign contributions using official taxpayer-funded resources, regardless of whether it is House or Senate video footage.”

“While I can’t speculate on how this violation will impact her political future, it is very troubling that a U.S. Senator who is seeking our nation’s highest office can’t follow one of Congress’ most basic ethics laws,” FACT’s executive director, Kendra Arnold, told National Review. “She needs to be held accountable for her irresponsible actions.”

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