ADLF CALLS FOR ETHICS INVESTIGATION INTO SEN. PAT TOOMEY

The American Democracy Legal Fund has filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate whether Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) violated Senate rules by using official resources for campaign purposes.

Sen. Toomey violated the Senate’s prohibition on the use of official resources for campaign or political purposes when he recorded a video for his campaign after he had “just left the State of the Union.” Sen. Toomey’s video, set in the Capitol complex, is a way for him to direct viewers to learn more about and support his campaign—the ultimate purpose for recording and uploading the video. The use of official spaces to achieve this outcome is in direct violation of Senate ethics rules.

The complaint is available below and in full with exhibits here. The American Democracy Legal Fund holds candidates for office accountable for possible ethics and/or legal violations. It was established by David Brock and is run by Brad Woodhouse.

American Democracy Legal Fund
455 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
February 16, 2016

Deborah Sue Mayer
Chief Counsel and Staff Director
U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics
220 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Re: Request for Investigation into Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA)
Dear Ms. Mayer:

American Democracy Legal Fund (“ADLF”) respectfully requests that the Senate Select Committee on Ethics (the “Committee”) investigate whether Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) violated Senate rules by using official resources for campaign purposes.

On January 13, 2016, Sen. Toomey and his campaign committee released a YouTube video following the State of the Union. In the recording’s first seconds, Sen. Toomey says that he “just left the State of the Union.” The video then highlights what the senator liked and disliked about the President’s address. This video was uploaded to the Senator’s campaign YouTube channel along with other videos attacking his potential general election opponent Joe Sestak. In addition to hosting political attack ads, the home page also links to his main campaign website, which contains a “donate” button on the site’s front page.

Senate ethics rules prohibit Sen. Toomey from using official resources to drive traffic to his campaign YouTube channel and website. The Senate Ethics Manual states that “[i]t is . . . inappropriate to use any official resources to conduct campaign or political activities.” More specifically, the manual says that “Senate space . . . and resources generally should not be used to assist campaign organizations.” Using the halls of Congress as a backdrop in a video posted for campaign or political purposes is thus prohibited under Senate ethics rules.

Sen. Toomey has violated the Senate’s prohibition on the use of official resources for campaign or political purposes. The Senator recorded a video for his campaign after he had “just left the State of the Union.” Sen. Toomey’s admission strongly indicates that he recorded the campaign video in the Capitol complex—either in the Capitol building itself or Russell Senate Office Building where his office is located. The video was then posted on his campaign’s official YouTube channel. Uploading the video to his campaign channel highlights the Senator’s intent to use the video for campaign purposes; specifically, to drive traffic to his campaign’s YouTube channel and website. Once a viewer is on the channel, there are a number of other campaign videos that attack Mr. Sestak, his potential Democratic opponent. The YouTube channel also links to Sen. Toomey’s campaign website, which contains a prominent “donate” button on the front page. Taken together, Sen. Toomey’s State of the Union reaction video set in the Capitol complex is a way for him to direct viewers to learn more about and support his campaign—the ultimate purpose for recording and uploading the video. The use of official spaces to achieve this outcome is in direct violation of Senate ethics rules.

Senate rules prohibit members from using official resources like spaces in the Capitol complex for campaign purposes. For the above stated reasons, we request that the Committee commence an immediate investigation into Sen. Toomey’s conduct.