APT files ethics and Federal Election Commission complaints against three House Judiciary Committee members

Watchdog Calls for Office of Congressional Ethics and FEC Investigations Into Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) and Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) for Violations of Law and House Ethics Rules

McBath Complaint Raises Issues About Millions of Dollars in Illegal Campaign Contributions from Bloomberg-linked Organization

Americans for Public Trust, an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan, public ethics watchdog organization, announced today it has filed complaints against three House Judiciary Committee Members with the Office of Congressional Ethics, as well as complaints against two of those same Members with the Federal Election Commission. The complaints call for investigations into violations of federal law and House rules. The complaints were filed against U.S. Representatives Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

“All three of these Members have engaged in disturbing activities that appear to us to be violations of federal law and House rules. This is especially alarming given all three sit on the prestigious House Judiciary Committee which has direct oversight responsibilities over the U.S. Department of Justice and, by extension, the nation’s law enforcement,” said Adam Laxalt, outside counsel to Americans for Public Trust and former Attorney General for the state of Nevada. “We’re calling on the Federal Election Commission and the Office of Congressional Ethics to immediately investigate these suspicious activities.”

Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) – Complaints filed with FEC and the Office of Congressional Ethics

  • McBath, the paid national spokesperson for Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, filed to run for Congress on March 5, 2018. One week later she appeared on CNN as both spokesperson for Everytown and a candidate for Congress.
  • While Rep. McBath was still national spokesperson for Everytown, it was already actively campaigning against her eventual opponent.
  • In April 2018 she took a “leave of absence” from Everytown, and shortly afterward Everytown announced its endorsement of her campaign and plans to spend heavily to support her.
  • In fact, Everytown spent over $1.2 million in her primary race and over $3 million in her general election campaign.
  • A coordinated communication occurs when a paid advocacy advertisement is run by a third party meeting certain standards of conduct. The conduct standard is satisfied by (1) substantial discussions between the person paying for the advertisement and the benefitting campaign; or (2) the communication is facilitated via a former employee. In this highly unusual case, the former employee is the candidate herself.
  • If Everytown’s spending was coordinated with Rep. McBath, it would constitute millions of dollars in illegal campaign contributions that were unreported, excessive, and prohibited by law.
  • Federal law forbids corporate contributions to candidates and imposes contribution limits as well as reporting requirements.

Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) – Complaints filed with the FEC and the Office of Congressional Ethics

  • In February 2018, Rep. Dean announced her candidacy for Congress after three months of campaigning for lieutenant governor in the state of Pennsylvania.
  • But Rep. Dean continued to spend funds from her state campaign on her campaign for Congress.
  • Some of those costs included: a congressional campaign website; software for fundraising, voter contact and the Pennsylvania voter database; reimbursing staff on her congressional campaign.
  • Contributions to a state campaign are not subject to the same reporting and contribution limits as federal contributions, therefore their use in a federal election is forbidden by federal law.
  • Dean is a former professor of English at LaSalle University who actually taught ethics.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) – Complaint filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics

  • On April 30, 2019 the House Rules Committee held a hearing on the Medicare for All Act of 2019, a bill introduced by Rep. Jayapal.
  • In two separate social media posts on the same day as the hearing, Rep. Jayapal’s campaign solicited financial contributions in order to keep “momentum going” for a bill she introduced. These posts directly referenced or linked to broadcast coverage of a hearing for the bill.
  • Jayapal violated House rules by linking to and directing supporters to watch the hearing which was broadcast by C-SPAN.
  • Jayapal also violated House rules by asking for contributions in order to advance her legislation.
  • House rules explicitly forbid official actions to be used for partisan political campaign purposes.


About Americans for Public Trust

APT is an independent, nonpartisan watchdog organization committed to restoring the people’s trust in our public institutions by holding politicians and political groups accountable. We use in-depth investigations and bold legal action to ensure those who disregard the rule of law are held responsible. By raising awareness of this work, we help to rebuild public faith in our elected leaders.

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