The D.C.-based group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has accused Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA) of using official government resources on a political ad attacking President Barack Obama, a violation of House ethics rules.
Issa, the chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, on November 2 uploaded a video to YouTube that attack Obama over State Department dinner spending. The video, entitled “Obama State Dinners: Spend Like He Says, Not Like He Does,” was uploaded on the Oversight Committee’s official YouTube channel and also promoted by Issa’s official Twitter account.
“The attack ad offers no information about any action whatsoever by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan wrote in a complaint filed Thursday with the Office of Congressional Ethics.
“Further, it makes no attempt to put the costs of the two state dinners into context — no information is provided about the costs of any other administrations’ state dinners. In fact, the only purpose of the ad — particularly given its release just days before a hotly contested presidential election — is to attempt to elicit outrage against the president for holding state dinners at a time when Americans are facing fiscal difficulties.”
The complaint notes that House rules prohibit members of Congress from using committee websites to distribute campaign information. The rule also applies to official social media accounts, like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
“American taxpayers have a right to assume that their money is being spent on the people’s business, not on unlawful political activities,” the complaint concluded. “Just as Rep. Issa insists other federal government employees be held accountable for misusing scarce taxpayer resources, he too should suffer the consequences of misappropriating public money.”
But Issa insists he did not violate any House rules.
“CREW is funded by anonymous liberal donors seeking to further a partisan political agenda against meaningful oversight of this administration,” Issa spokeswoman Becca Watkins told The Hill. “Independent reviews of the organization have found that its complaints lack credibility. This frivolous complaint, like others CREW has made at the behest of their far-left benefactors against Chairman Issa, has no merit.”