Actions Potentially Violate Both Senate Ethics Rules & Federal Law
Senator Claire McCaskill’s uphill re-election bid was the subject of a story in yesterday’s Washington Post which was then the focus of an interview that her official government office curiously set up with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews yesterday evening.
In the course of yesterday’s MSNBC interview, which was conducted from the Russell Senate Office Building, Senator McCaskill made a direct pitch for campaign contributions – even directing viewers to her campaign website – which would appear to violate both Senate ethics rules and federal law. The U.S. Senate ethics manual clearly states – “Senate Members and staff may not receive or solicit campaign contributions in any federal building.”
As The Daily Caller reports today, “[A] Democratic lawmaker may have violated prohibitions against soliciting campaign contributions on government property while appearing on MSNBC on Monday night.”
“Senator McCaskill has a long record of saying one thing in Missouri while doing another in Washington, and her sense of entitlement is troubling,” National Republican Senatorial Committee General Counsel Sean Cairncross said today. “Even more troubling is the fact that she would directly solicit campaign contributions on government property, a potential violation of Senate ethics rules and federal law. Just as with the controversy surrounding her private plane, it seems Senator McCaskill doesn’t believe the rules apply to her.”
Of course this isn’t the first time McCaskill has been caught saying one thing in Missouri and doing another in Washington, while failing to apply the same ethical standards that she has long demanded of others in government. Last year, Missouri’s senior Senator Claire McCaskill introduced legislation to create “an independent non-partisan watchdog to investigate, audit, and review Senate operations” and she said the following:
- · “There’s nothing that irritates Americans more than the fact that some members of Congress think they are entitled to their own set of rules. And it’s true – too many people in Washington live in an alternate reality. It’s time for that to stop.”
Less than a month later, McCaskill was forced to admit that she had improperly billed taxpayers for political travel on her private plane, while failing to pay over $300,000 in back taxes owed on her aircraft as well.
This is what McCaskill said to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews yesterday in an interview from the Russell Senate Office Building:
- McCaskill: “I’m asking regular folks to be my superpac — I’m really proud that we raised a lot of money last quarter but 90% of it came from donations of less than $200 and on Clairemccaskill.com people can give 25 bucks and if people can give a lot of those we will have our own superpac.”
And this is what the Senate ethics manual very clearly lays out…..
- In addition to this general prohibition, there are several criminal statutes that impose additional restrictions on campaign activities by Senate Members and staff:
- No Campaign Activity in a Federal Building — Senate Members and staff may not receive or solicit campaign contributions in any federal building.
Further, Senator McCaskill used her official government staff to set-up an interview that was focused solely on her re-election bid conflicts with yet another section of the Senate ethics manual as well governing campaign activity by Senate employees:
- Senate employees are free to engage in campaign activity, as volunteers or for pay, provided they do so on their own time, outside of Senate space, and without using Senate resources.
But these are just a few examples of what Senator McCaskill has said in the past about the improper use of taxpayer dollars:
- “After Eight Years In Office As Missouri’s State Auditor, Claire Came To The Senate With Extensive Experience Targeting Government Waste And Mismanagement And An Eye To Root Out Waste, Fraud And Abuse At The Federal Level.” (Senator Claire McCaskill, “Government Accountability,” www.mccaskill.senate.gov, Accessed 4/24/12)
- McCaskill Has Worked To “Establish Herself As An Ethics Cop In The Senate.” “That the former state auditor has sought to establish herself as an ethics cop in the Senate — she had previously proposed a crackdown on Congressional travel — could make the attacks that much easier for her Republican rivals.” (Jake Wagman, “McCaskill Will Pay $287K For Back Taxes On Plane,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Political Fix Blog, www.stltoday.com, Posted 3/21/11)
- In A Press Release Titled “Congress Should Play By The Same Rules As Everyone Else,” McCaskill Said “There’s Nothing That Irritates Americans More Than The Fact That Some Members Of Congress Think They Are Entitled To Their Own Set Of Rules. And It’s True – Too Many People In Washington Live In An Alternate Reality. It’s Time For That To Stop.” “U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill announced today a series of common sense reforms that will bring change to the way Congress does business. McCaskill’s proposal builds on previous efforts to reform Washington by bringing new accountability to Congress while forcing members to do their part to begin addressing the budget crisis. ‘There’s nothing that irritates Americans more than the fact that some members of Congress think they are entitled to their own set of rules. And it’s true – too many people in Washington live in an alternate reality. It’s time for that to stop,’ McCaskill said.” (Senator Claire McCaskill, “McCaskill: Congress Should Play By The Same Rules As Everyone Else,” Press Release, 2/20/11)