Nonprofit watchdog group Americans for Public Trust filed complaints with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against Reps. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Lucy McBath, D-Ga., calling for investigations of possible violations of House rules and federal law. The organization, founded by former National Republican Congressional Committee research director Caitlin Sutherland, also filed complaints against Dean and McBath with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
“All three of these members have engaged in disturbing activities that appear to us to be violations of federal law and House rules. This is especially alarming given all three sit on the prestigious House Judiciary Committee, which has direct oversight responsibilities over the U.S. Department of Justice and, by extension, the nation’s law enforcement,” said Adam Laxalt, former Nevada attorney general and outside counsel to Americans for Public Trust. "We’re calling on the Federal Election Commission and the Office of Congressional Ethics to immediately investigate these suspicious activities.”
Fox News reached out to the offices of all three congresswomen for comment, but they did not immediately respond.
The complaints against Dean claim that after she suspended her campaign for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, she used campaign funds from that race to go toward the congressional campaign she launched soon afterward. The complaints allege that this violated federal law — and by extension, House rules because campaigns for federal office must only use funds that were subject to the FEC. The complaints state that these expenditures continued after Dean was elected to Congress, and totaled more than $17,000.
The OCE complaint against Jayapal describes allegations that the Washington Democrat violated a House rule that prohibits members of Congress from soliciting campaign or political contributions that are "linked with an official action taken or to be taken by a House member." The complaint also notes that federal law prohibits House members from requesting money or other things of value connected with performing an official duty.
The complaint points to tweets from Jayapal related to the "Medicare-for-all" bill that she sponsored, in which she referenced or linked to a C-SPAN broadcast of a House hearing related to the bill while soliciting campaign contributions to keep “momentum going” for the bill. The complaint also alleges that by doing this, Jayapal violated a House rule against using broadcast coverage of official House business for political purposes.
The complaints against McBath are connected to money her campaign received from the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. McBath had been employed by Everytown prior to launching her congressional campaign in March 2018, and the complaint states that she remained employed there for roughly two more months. During that time, she appeared on television as both a candidate and a spokesperson for Everytown.
The complaints also allege that McBath received money from Everytown for her campaign during that time, even though Everytown reported in an FEC filing that they first began contributing to McBath's campaign on April 25, 2018.
"However, Everytown began spending in the election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District while Representative McBath was still serving as the group’s national spokesperson," the OCE complaint says. "It is not publicly known what level of involvement Representative McBath had in Everytown’s expenditures against her eventual general election opponent while she was still employed by Everytown."
The House Judiciary Committee played a central role in the recently concluded impeachment inquiry — and eventual trial — of President Trump regarding his pressure campaign against Ukraine. The three Democrats flagged in the ethics complaints voted for the articles of impeachment as they were prepared for the floor.
The president was acquitted last week on accusations of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, in a largely party-line Senate vote.