Election 2020 Politics

Democrats file ethics complaint against Republican campaign arm over alleged use of ‘trackers’ in House office buildings

On Jan. 9 alone, for instance, the NRCC posted to its Twitter account 10 videos that appeared to show trackers following Democratic lawmakers inside House buildings, the DCCC said. Videos uploaded by the NRCC over the past few months show Democratic members of Congress being pressed on a range of issues including the impeachment of President Trump and the drone strike that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.

“House ethics rules prohibiting the use of official resources for political purposes exist in large part to establish and maintain decorum and order in the House of Representatives,” the DCCC said in its complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics.

“But NRCC staff and/or agents appear to have violated these well-established rules. Their conduct reflects a complete and total disregard for this decorum. Unless Representative Emmer and NRCC are held accountable, the People’s House will simply become another tool of campaigns to malign political opponents and win elections,” it added, referring to Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), chairman of the NRCC.

The OCE and the NRCC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Twitter, NRCC Communications Director Chris Pack fired back at Democrats, accusing them of “using the taxpayer-funded OCE for a political publicity stunt.”

“Absolutely disgusting that @CheriBustos would use the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to attack Congressman Tom Emmer,” Pack said, referring to DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos (Ill.). “This is such an ‘egregious misuse of official House resources for political purposes.’”

While political candidates and both parties’ official campaign arms have long deployed trackers on the campaign trail, their use has generally been considered off-limits within the office buildings that are part of the U.S. Capitol complex.

In its complaint Monday night, the DCCC pointed to the House Ethics Manual, which states: “The House buildings, and House rooms and offices — including district offices — are supported with official funds and hence are considered official resources. Accordingly, as a general rule, they may not be used for the conduct of campaign or political activities.”

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