CLC Calls on Lawmakers To Stop Threats Against Donors Who Suspended Campaign Contributions

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Campaign Legal Center (CLC) submitted a letter to the U.S. House Committee on Ethics calling for immediate action in response to congressional staff threats to withhold official actions and access for companies that suspended campaign contributions following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Prior to the riot at the Capitol several lawmakers allegedly made comments to incite the attack and many objected to the official certification of the electoral votes. In response, over 70 companies announced that they would suspend all or some of their political action committee (PAC) contributions. Following the announcement, it was reported that congressional staffers for Republican and Democratic lawmakers threatened to prohibit lobbyists from companies that have pulled their political donations from coming into their offices and  allow legislation that would be harmful to those same companies to pass without objection.  

“Lawmakers revealing that they are considering punishing companies based on political contributions is akin to extortion,” said Kedric Payne senior director of ethics and former deputy chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics, “The very public nature of the threats is yet another symptom of the collapse of core ethics rules in Congress.”

House rules are clear that “members and staff are not to take or withhold any official action on the basis of the campaign contributions or support of the involved individuals . . . members and staff are likewise prohibited from threatening punitive action on the basis of such consideration.”  The committee, “has long advised members and staff that they should always exercise caution to avoid even the appearance that solicitations of campaign contributions are connected in any way with an action taken or to be taken in their official capacity.” Moreover, these actions implicate bribery, illegal gratuities and other criminal laws.

The Committee on Ethics is often criticized for not investigating or disciplining lawmakers for ethics violations, but it routinely issues public advisories to lawmakers to prevent foreseeable ethics violations,” Payne said, “If the committee fails to at the very least issue a statement prohibiting this conduct, it is setting a tone in the beginning of a new Congress that fundamental ethics principles are not enforced and thereby meaningless.” 

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is urging the U.S. House Committee on Ethics to take action on the blatant ethics violations. If the committee fails to act on these very public threats, the integrity of the committee and the House of Representatives will be called into question at a time when many feel our democracy is under attack.