INDEPENDENCE, IA — An official House ethics complaint was filed late Wednesday night by a Dubuque resident against Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA) for using taxpayer resources for his reelection campaign.
The ethics complaint stems from an email sent by Braley Tuesday afternoon using official taxpayer resources, including his congressional email account and letterhead, to advertise an event in Cedar Rapids which is outside of Braley’s current congressional district, but is part of a new district in which Braley is running for reelection.
“Because Braley is in the midst of a tough reelection campaign in the new First Congressional District, and based on the fact that Braley does not represent the people of Cedar Rapids, the only conceivable reason that Braley would have in using official taxpayer-funded resources to communicate with the residents of Cedar Rapids is to support his reelection campaign in violation of House ethics rules and federal law,” the complaint states.
The House Ethics Manual explicitly prohibits official resources from being used for campaign or political purposes. Last year, the Committee on Ethics and the Committee on House Administration issued joint guidance relating to redistricting that further declared, “[m]embers may not use official funds, including the use of staff resources, to conduct ‘town hall’ meetings or other official gatherings outside their districts.”
According to the House Ethics Manual, this rule reflects the longstanding principle “that government funds should not be spent to help incumbents gain reelection.” Violations of this rule is considered a “very serious matter,” which could result “not only disciplinary action by the House, but also criminal prosecution.”
“Congressman Bruce Braley is using taxpayer resources to fund his reelection campaign,” said Lange advisor Cody Brown. “This is an outrageous breach of the public’s trust and we call on the Office of Congressional Ethics to immediately launch a formal congressional investigation into the conduct of Braley’s Washington office.”
“Braley should apologize to Iowa taxpayers and because the misuse of official House resources for campaign purposes may violate criminal laws, Braley should disclose all internal communications related to this improper activity to prove to Iowa taxpayers that this ethical lapse was caused by something other than criminal wrongdoing.”