Is U.S. Rep. “Borrowin’ Bruce” Braley campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime? A complaint filed with the U.S. House Ethics Committee against Braley certainly makes the case that he is.
The complaint was filed by former Dubuque County GOP chairman Matt Giese. Giese takes issue with a public “deficit workshop” that Braley plans on hosting in Cedar Rapids on August 20th. Cedar Rapids is NOT in Iowa’s 1st District, which Braley represents. However, due to redistricting, Cedar Rapids will be in the newly redrawn 1st district this fall and will therefore be voting for in that district in the coming election.
The complaint states: “Because Braley is in the midst of a tough reelection campaign in the new First Congressional District, and based on the fact that Braley does not represent the people of Cedar Rapids, the only conceivable reason that Braley would have in using official taxpayer-funded resources to communicate with the residents of Cedar Rapids is to support his reelection campaign in violation of House ethics rules and federal law.”
Giese also points out: “On September 16, 2011, the Committee on Ethics and Committee on House Administration issued ‘Joint Guidance Regarding Redistricting’ as a supplement to the Ethics Manual in order to ‘offer guidance on what Members may and may not do with official resources where redistricting is concerned.’ The Joint Guidance made clear that ‘[m]embers may not use official funds, including the use of staff resources, to conduct ‘town hall’ meetings or other official gatherings outside their districts.’ [Emphasis added.]
“In the case of Braley, he used official congressional office resources to organize an official gathering in Cedar Rapids, which is outside of Braley’s current congressional district, and is therefore in violation of the House ethics rules issued jointly by the Committees on Ethics and House Administration.
In addition, Giese alleges that Braley abused Congressional franking privileges when promoting his event: “[T]he Ethics Manual clearly states that ‘[e]-mails sent by a congressional office must likewise comply with the Franking Regulations’ and the Joint Guidance states that ‘[u]nder the franking statute, a Member ‘may not send any mass mailing outside the congressional district from which the Member was elected.’
“Braley is clearly using his email account to target non-constituents in Cedar Rapids and is therefore in violation of the House Ethics Manual and franking regulations.”
In the end I’m sure nothing much will come from this ethics complaint. Whenever you have crooks policing crooks its always a joke. If Braley murdered fourteen Girl Scouts with a machete he might get a stern finger wag from the House Ethics Committee, if that. If anyone is going to hold Borrowin’ Bruce accountable for anything it will have to be the voters back home in November.