House Offers Ethics Guidance on Communicating About COVID-19

In response to numerous requests about the use of official resources to provide information to constituents about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and implementing continuity of operations plans, the House Committee on Ethics has issued guidance.

Members may inform their constituents about resources available from non-profits, private entities, and hospitals with respect to public health and safety and the ongoing pandemic (e.g., testing, health care, and other community services for those impacted by the virus). It is important to note that all resource must be specific to coronavirus information, as official communications must still be related to official business.

While it seems altruistic and heartfelt to want to solicit donations to help pay for food, medical supplies, or expenses, it must be emphasized that official resources may not be used to solicit anything of value. Members and staff may, however, solicit in their personal capacities on behalf of charitable organizations like the Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity. These personal efforts may not use official resources including official staff time, office email, and official mailing lists.

While these times might be uncertain and challenging, a few things are certain: members must follow the House rules, and also wash their hands.