Democrats sent a furious flurry of fundraising emails to supporters overnight, as dozens of members of Congress staged a “sit-in” to demand a vote on gun control legislation that has already failed in the Senate. At least one Democrat, however, who sent fundraising messages from the floor of the House itself may have violated the rules of the House Ethics Committee.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who participated in the protest, sent a message to supporters while literally on the House floor, using the left-wing fundraising platform ActBlue (emphasis added):
I’m asking you while sitting here on the House floor: Will you support our fund to elect public servants willing to stand up to the NRA? We need to take action immediately. We won’t be able to make real change until the NRA-funded obstruction is over. That’s why we need a change in Congress. Chip in right now to help us make that happen.
House Ethics Committee rules specify that congressional resources, including the physical space of the building itself, may not be used for political fundraising (original emphasis):
Official resources of the House must, as a general rule, be used for the performance of official business of the House, and hence those resources may not be used for campaign or political purposes.
It is permissible for House employees to do campaign work, but only outside of congressional space, without the use of any House resources, and on their own time (as opposed to “official” time for which they are compensated by the House). Accordingly, any House employee who does campaign work must ensure that the work – including any telephone conversations or other communications concerning campaign business – is performed strictly in compliance with these limitations.
House Buildings, and House Rooms and Offices. 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.
Other Democrats were more careful to ensure that fundraising solicitations were made by campaign organizations outside Congress. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), for example, sent emails in the names of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Update: A reader forwarded another fundraising e-mail sent by Rep. Schakowsky from the House floor, via her re-election campaign:
Friends, I’m asking you while sitting here on the House floor: Will you support our fund to elect public servants willing to stand up to the NRA? We need to take action immediately.
We won’t be able to make real change until the NRA-funded obstruction is over. That’s why we need a change in Congress. Chip in right now to help us make that happen.
The email is signed: “PAID FOR AND AUTHORIZED BY SCHAKOWSKY FOR CONGRESS.”
(Full disclosure: the author ran against Schakowsky in 2010.)
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, will be published by Regnery on July 25 and is available for pre-order through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.