The watchdog group Public Citizen on Wednesday requested that the U.S. Congress launch an immediate investigation into Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) after President Donald Trump was allowed to use live video of the State of the Union address to raise funds for his campaign.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Public Citizen said it had filed a complaint to have the House Ethics Committee and Office of Congressional Ethics to “investigate whether Speaker Paul Ryan violated House rules by allowing the Trump campaign to use a broadcast of the State of the Union address for campaign fundraising purposes.”
According to the statement, Trump’s use of the live feed may run afoul of House rules.
Rule V of the Rules of the House of Representatives states that the speaker is responsible for administering official broadcasts and recordings of floor proceedings and that these official audio and visual transmissions shall not be used for partisan campaign activities. The State of the Union address was broadcast from the floor of the House, which was then livestreamed on Trump’s reelection campaign Facebook page and Twitter feed. New donors were encouraged to make a campaign contribution in exchange for having their names listed in a crawl at the bottom of the screen.
“Donald Trump commercialized and corrupted yet another national institution, making this just the latest disgraceful degradation by Trump of the presidency and our public institutions,” Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said. “This blatant selling of the presidency also appears to violate rules, which is why we are filing today’s complaint. Putting donors’ names on the screen essentially says, ‘This presidency is brought to you by Goldman Sachs, Dow Chemical, Koch Industries and Murray Energy.’”