Ethics Watchdog Calls for Investigation into Raphael Warnock Soliciting Campaign Contributions

Sen. Raphael Warnock(R) (D-GA) speaks to people rallying for voters' rights on Capitol Hill on August 3, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a non-partisan ethics watchdog, sent a letter to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics calling for the immediate investigation of Democrat Sen. Raphael Warnock (GA) for allegedly violating “Senate ethics prohibition on soliciting campaign contributions linked to official Senate action.”

In the letter, FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold outlined that Warnock, on July 24, sent out an email to receipts with “I just testified at a special Senate hearing in Georgia on voting rights” as the subject line. They wrote that the email showed “urgency” and “importance” for what he will have the recipients do.

The letter also noted that Warnock included a “direct solicitation for campaign donations” at the bottom of the email, for which he was “personally” requesting the readers click on a “petition” and sign their name.

“Senators must conduct themselves according to the Senate Ethics rules,” Arnold outlined in the letter to the committee:

Under the Senate Ethics Manual’s Scope of Authority, the Senate “may discipline a Member for any misconduct, including conduct or activity which does not directly relate to official duties, when such conduct unfavorably reflects on the institution as a whole.” A Senator who solicits campaign contributions related to official action certainly reflects unfavorably on the Senate. In addition, the use of official action for political fundraising is directly related to official duties. Thus, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics is within the bounds of its Scope of Authority in investigating and ultimately penalizing this type of unethical behavior.

In a press release, Arnold wrote, “I encourage the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to immediately investigate and issue any appropriate penalties.” She added:

The Senate Ethics rules hold members to a high standard to maintain the public trust in our elected officials. One rule specifically bars Senators from combining official actions with solicitations for campaign donations–which Senator Warnock’s email clearly did. This ethics rule is designed to avoid even the appearance that donating to a Senator could result in a certain vote being cast.

This year alone, FACT has gone after multiple members of Congress for possible ethics violations.

Recently, the group wrote complaints to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) regarding former Democrat Rep. Harley Rouda (CA), allegedly violating House ethics rules for stock transactions and vulnerable Democrat Rep. Tom Malinowski (NJ) for filing his financial disclosure forms extremely late.

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