Last week, the non-partisan ethics watchdog the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), filed a complaint requesting the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) investigate Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, to determine whether he used official House video on his campaign Twitter account in violation of House rules that prohibit abusing official resources for campaign or political purposes.
Federal law states that “appropriations shall be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made except as otherwise provided by law.” Ethics rules enforce this law by prohibiting Members from using any official resource for campaign or political purposes. An “official resource” is anything funded by taxpayers, including official House video and government buildings. The rules additionally reiterate that campaign social media accounts cannot contain any official content or resources.
Despite these rules, Rep. Swalwell posted a video of official House Committee proceedings to his campaign Twitter account. Even more egregious is that he overlaid his campaign logo with his campaign slogan on the video, which is the same logo used on Swalwell’s campaign Twitter account and campaign website.
“The legal violation in this case is obvious and there are no facts to excuse it. Rep. Swalwell used official House resources and proceedings for political purposes. The video was taken inside a government building and is from a House Committee proceeding, both are official resources. The fact that Swalwell put his campaign logo on an official resource shows a complete lack of respect for the law. Although it is not clear how Swalwell obtained the video, it is irrelevant because a Member cannot use official footage even if it is obtained from another entity. These laws must be strictly enforced to reduce the incentive for Members to abuse official proceedings to make political statements as shown in this case,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT.
A full copy of the complaint can be found HERE.