Government Watchdog Accuses Office of Congressional Ethics of Violating Mission: Allegations Against Members of Congress

Conservative Watchdog Accuses Ethics Office of Violating Its Mission

A conservative government watchdog is alleging that the office tasked with investigating ethics allegations against members of Congress with violating its own mission.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) named the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) the top ethics violator of 2023, accusing the group of failing to protect the interests of taxpayers by not speedily investigating members of Congress for allegations like using public funds for political fundraising.

Allegations Against Congress Members

Among the members of Congress accused by FACT of misusing official resources are Reps. Ilhan Omar, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush and Eric Swalwell, all Democrats.

Complaints and Allegations

FACT filed a complaint against Omar in March for a “TikTok account that she is clearly using for both official House and political purposes,” according to the watchdog group.

Congressional Restrictions

Congressional members are barred from using official resources for campaign purposes. Lawmakers are also similarly prohibited from using campaign funds for official purposes.

Security Concerns

Many of the allegations that FACT says OCE has not acted swiftly on revolve around TikTok, whose parent company, the Beijing-based ByteDance, has come under fire from critics who allege it’s a spy app.

Security Risks and Leadership’s Stance

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the Chinese government could use TikTok for data operations, and the House of Representatives banned its use on official devices, citing security risks.

Additional Allegations

Bowman was similarly accused of posting campaign content to his official TikTok account despite having a dedicated TikTok account for political purposes, according to FACT.

More Ethics Violations

Bush and fellow Rep. Maxwell Frost both allegedly posted political content with official accounts on X, formerly Twitter, according to FACT.

Volume of Communications and Allegations

The OCE receives thousands of communications each quarter, but it’s unclear how many of those are complaints of alleged violations of ethics rules. From July to September, for instance, the OCE reported receiving 3,624 communications for requests for information and allegations of misconduct.

Public Trust

FACT says the alleged violations are easy to prove because the posts are public. The OCE has reprimanded similar violations in the past, according to FACT.

“The OCE’s continued failure to act will only result in further erosion of public trust in Congress and those bodies intended to hold them accountable,” Arnold said in the statement.

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