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‘Complete inaction’: Congressional ethics violators of 2023 have yet to be held accountable, watchdog says

A conservative government watchdog is alleging that the office tasked with investigating ethics allegations against members of Congress with violating its own mission.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) named the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) the top ethics violator of 2023, accusing the group of failing to protect the interests of taxpayers by not speedily investigating members of Congress for allegations like using public funds for political fundraising.

“The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) has failed in its duty to hold Members of Congress accountable,” said Kendra Arnold, FACT’s executive director, in a statement shared with Fox News Digital. “Its complete inaction in numerous cases of Members abusing official taxpayer funded resources for political purposes functions as an endorsement of violating basic ethics rules–and it’s simply not too much to ask for enforcement when violations openly appear in places as public as social media platforms.”

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Among the members of Congress accused by FACT of misusing official resources are Reps. Ilhan Omar, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush and Eric Swalwell, all Democrats.

FACT filed a complaint against Omar in March for a “TikTok account that she is clearly using for both official House and political purposes,” according to the watchdog group.

Congressional members are barred from using official resources for campaign purposes. Lawmakers are also similarly prohibited from using campaign funds for official purposes.

Many of the allegations that FACT says OCE has not acted swiftly on revolve around TikTok, whose parent company, the Beijing-based ByteDance, has come under fire from critics who allege it’s a spy app.

FBI Director Christopher Wray said the Chinese government could use TikTok for data operations, and the House of Representatives banned its use on official devices, citing security risks.

Bowman was similarly accused of posting campaign content to his official TikTok account, despite having a dedicated TikTok account for political purposes, according to FACT.

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Bush and fellow Rep. Maxwell Frost both allegedly posted political content with official accounts on X, formerly Twitter, according to FACT.

The OCE receives thousands of communications each quarter, but it’s unclear how many of those are complaints of alleged violations of ethics rules. From July to September, for instance, the OCE reported receiving 3,624 communications for requests for information and allegations of misconduct. 

It’s unclear whether OCE opened preliminary investigations into the alleged violations of social media policy. The OCE did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

FACT says the alleged violations are easy to prove because the posts are public. The OCE has reprimanded similar violations in the past, according to FACT.

A member of Congress using official accounts and resources to ask for donations or promote reelection appears to violate rules aimed at preventing taxpayer funds from supporting an incumbent in partisan elections.

“The OCE’s continued failure to act will only result in further erosion of public trust in Congress and those bodies intended to hold them accountable,” Arnold said in the statement.

   

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