In response to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the House Committee on Ethics and the House Committee on Administration have jointly released updated guidance on member solicitation. Under normal circumstances, members are permitted to make certain solicitations on behalf of charitable organizations, though certain restrictions apply. However, the updated April 3rd guidance recognizes the need for necessary medical supplies and equipment for the nation’s response to the disease and recognizes the need for permitting Members’ to aid in these efforts.
Members are now permitted to use official communications for solicitations to aid in the COVID-19 response. The lifted restrictions will allow members to seek donations for in-kind resources only, such as volunteer services, blood donations, food, disinfecting materials, and personal protective equipment. Eligible entities will include any organization recognized by the IRS, state and local governments, public schools, and certain veterans’ organizations. For any solicitations on behalf of a group not recognized by the IRS, Members must seek approval on a case by case basis. These donations cannot include money and must only be for in-kind donation of resources.
Additionally, Members may use official email for such donation requests at no cost to the taxpayer, while unsolicited mass mailings will still require review by the House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards. The Committee did however lift the prohibition on mass mailings that normally occurs 90 days prior to an election, for any mail strictly limited to the threats to life and public safety from COVID-19.
The full guidance from the House Committee on Ethics and the Committee on House Administration can be found here.