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AOC misused official resources for campaign purposes, complaint alleges

By Stew Davidson
|
January 24, 2024

A government watchdog organization has submitted an official complaint against certain Democratic members of Congress -- including New York Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -- for utilizing official government resources for political campaign activities, thereby violating congressional ethics codes.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a nonpartisan watchdog group, has made these allegations in a detailed complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), as Fox News reported.

They claim that dozens of House members are misusing official House resources "for political purposes…the most obvious violations being members using official government resources to campaign on their political social media accounts or using official government platforms to campaign."

The complaint states, "The members choosing to break this law do it for a reason -- it advantages them politically."

Those implicated include former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA-11), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Cori Bush (MO-01), and Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), among others.

The complaint emphasizes that using sanctioned government platforms to disseminate political messages not only reaches a broader and less partisan audience but also adds an "official" credibility to their message.

Legal Framework and Ethical Boundaries

FACT points out that these actions contradict federal law, which dictates that "appropriations shall be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made except as otherwise provided by law."

House ethics rules reinforce this by prohibiting members from utilizing any official resource for campaign or political purposes.

Official resources, funded by taxpayers, include government buildings, official websites and social media accounts, and footage from the House floor or committee proceedings.

Specifically, the complaint references a July 2018 memo from the Committee on Ethics.

The communication stated that a member's campaign social media account "may not share, like, retweet, etc., a post from an official social media account."

The ease of proving these violations is noted in the complaint, as many are publicly visible on platforms such as Twitter.

The Role and Responsibility of OCE

The OCE, established in 2008 following the House Ethics Committee's failure to address legal and ethical violations by members, is highlighted in the complaint.

It underscores the intended purpose of the OCE as an independent body designed to expose ethics violations, acting on behalf of the public.

The complaint points out that while the ultimate penalty for these violations lies with the House Ethics Committee, the OCE is responsible for identifying ethical transgressions and making them known to both the public and the Ethics Committee.

FACT notes that the OCE has previously identified "this exact same behavior as ethics violations in past years, but it has simply failed to enforce" the rule meant to thwart them.

The complaint asserts that the OCE was designed "to be an independent evaluator to expose ethics violations -- not to fall in line with the Ethics Committee and follow its example of inaction."