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Watchdog group hits Michigan Democrat with ethics complaint saying she campaigned from Capitol office

FIRST ON FOX: A government ethics watchdog filed a complaint against a Michigan Democrat for appearing to solicit donations from her Capitol office during an event. 

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a nonprofit government ethics watchdog, filed the complaint against Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., on Wednesday, alleging the sophomore congresswoman had solicited “impermissible campaign contributions” during a virtual event she attended from her DC office.

According to the complaint, Slotkin “attended a virtual meeting of the Jewish Democratic Council of America (JDCA)” in May, appearing to have attended from her office just across the street from the U.S. Capitol building.


“She appears to have attended the meeting from her congressional office, presumably with congressional office equipment, with her congressional staffer present, and during the meeting discussed campaign strategy and solicited campaign contributions,” the complaint reads.

It is against House ethics rules and federal law to use official space, staffers, or supplies for campaign purposes, as they are funded through taxpayer dollars. The event took place at 1:15 PM, according to the event details, at a time when the House was in session.

“Both federal law and House ethics rules prohibit official funds and resources from being used for campaign or political purposes. 31 U.S. Code section 1301 provides that official funds are to be used only for the purposes for which appropriated—and not any campaign or political purpose,” the complaint reads. “The House ethics rules also require strict separation between campaign and official acts: A Member is clearly prohibited from using official resources for campaign or political purposes.”

U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., holds a constituent community conversation at Oakland University, Monday, Dec. 16, 2019, in Rochester, Mich. Slotkin, a freshman Democrat who flipped a battleground Republican seat, said Monday she will vote to impeach President Donald Trump.

FACT included a transcript from the meeting between JDCA board member Michael Horowitz and Slotkin, which the complaint says backs up the allegations.

“You need to let us know—we know how we can help you, of course—never enough campaign contributions, particularly in an election that I think they’re gunning for you,” Horowitz said. “The Rs see you as very vulnerable and so we want to be there for you as you were always there for us. Thank you for taking the time today to share some thoughts with us. We appreciate it.”

“Well I appreciate that. You do not have to thank me for literally doing my job, but I appreciate it,” Slotkin responded. “So I will just say, if you want to help, I do not believe I can win unless we have significant turnout from Michigan State students. Full stop.”

“If there’s anything we can do on voter registration and voter turnout— that is, I think, the only way that I will hang on to this district. So I will leave it at that,” Slotkin continued. “So I will leave it at that, but that is, that is my ask—even bigger than all the traditional contributions and visibility and all those great things, which of course I always love.”

“It’s mobilization, usually in paid voter registration,” she added. “Paying students—that’s what the Stacey Abrams model is, right? Paying students to register their fellow students.”

Photos posted by the JDCA show Slotkin appearing to be in her Capitol Hill office during the event, with a post from the day before showing Slotkin holding a meeting with the Michigan National Guard in the same room.

While the office could be one of her Michigan offices or even a campaign, the clock on the wall says otherwise.

A Slotkin spokeswoman told Fox News Digital that the event was a congressional meeting. 

“Congresswoman Slotkin has spent her career serving the country at the CIA and Pentagon. She takes ethical standards extremely seriously, and the partisan organization behind this complaint is well known for political hit jobs on members of Congress. The facts are that last month, she held a Congressional meeting with Michiganders to discuss combatting anti-semitism. During the meeting, a participant asked about her re-election, and she made a brief reference to voter engagement,” the spokeswoman said. 

“The House ethics rules make it clear that using government resources for campaign purposes and soliciting any type of campaign contribution from House buildings are very serious offenses,” FACT executive director Kendra Arnold said. “This is the case because it implicates a foundational principle that Members cannot use government resources for their political gain.”

“The exchange that occurred in this case involved Representative Slotkin plainly discussing her campaign and asking for what she felt was needed to win her race. After watching this video there is simply no scenario where this is related to official House business and not campaign related,” she continued. “Thus, we urge the Board to immediately investigate Rep. Slotkin for using official resources for campaign purposes, soliciting campaign contributions from Congressional buildings, and for violating federal campaign finance laws,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT.”

The clock contains the standard lights in each House office clock to signal to members when it is time to vote, meaning the picture had to come from inside the House.

The complaint may spell trouble for Slotkin as she runs for her third congressional term in a political environment that is getting redder by the day.

Slotkin’s race is one of the two dozen Democrat toss-up elections that could see the congresswoman kicked from her seat by the GOP.

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