An ethics watchdog is asking the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to investigate Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) for potentially violating federal law and House ethics rules by abusing official resources for political purposes with his social media accounts.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) filed an ethics complaint on Monday, asking for an investigation into Bowman’s use of the Chinese social media app TikTok to determine if his accounts violate House rules and abused official resources for political purposes.
The popular Chinese social media app, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd, was banned on United States government devices when a provision was added to the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill President Joe Biden signed into law for being a potential national security problem. And a bipartisan group of lawmakers, excluding Bowman, are looking to ban TikTok entirely in the United States over many significant concerns over the app’s abilities.
FACT noted that despite warnings not to use TikTok over the risk of the Chinese government being able to see data, Bowman has allegedly been using the same TikTok account for official House and political purposes, which would be a violation of House Ethics rules.
The complaint explained that Bowman has two accounts, @jamaalbowmanny, where he posts campaign and political content, and @repbowman, where he makes official government posts and describes himself as “Congressman for NY-16.” However, the complaint further explained:
Although he maintains two separate accounts, Rep. Bowman has posted political content on his official account and used official resources to make posts on his political account. For instance, Bowman recorded a political video from inside the U.S. Capitol building and posted it on his political account:
Another example is that Bowman has made identical political posts calling for a Supreme Court Justice to be impeached on both his political account and his campaign account:
Finally, he has apparently also recorded video to post to his political TikTok account from his Congressional office. The post on the left was uploaded to his political account and the posts on the right were recorded from the same location, on the same day or week, and uploaded to his official account:
FACT explained the Federal laws and House ethics rules that require a strict divide between campaign and official acts, such as members being “prohibited from using official resources for campaign purposes” and members being “prohibited from using campaign funds for official purposes.”
Due to these rules, FACT has explained that the congressman’s TikTok account abuses government resources because there is official and political content posted, including a political video from inside the U.S. Capitol building being published on his political account.
“The laws and ethics rules prohibiting Members from using official resources for political purposes are clear and longstanding,” said FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold. “Not only do these ethics rules protect taxpayer funds, but they also protect the integrity of the government and maintain citizens’ trust.”
“Anytime a Member does not comply with these laws, it is troubling and should concern citizens. The OCE must move swiftly to investigate and enforce these bright-line standards and apply the requisite penalty,” said FACT Executive Director Kendra Arnold.