Thursday, March 11, 2004

It looks like the Committee on Resources is using its website for politcal action. It’s devoting the front page to two paragraphs from a story on Presidental candidate Kerry:

“That black stuff is hurting us."
Sen. John Kerry on oil ( Greenwire )

Washington, DC -Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry is quoted in today’s edition of Greenwire as saying, “that black stuff is hurting us,” with regard to oil. Members of the House Committee on Resources found the Senator’s comment absurd.

“John Kerry is dead wrong,” Chairman Richard W. Pombo (R-CA) said. “Oil doesn’t hurt Americans; John Kerry’s anti-energy policies hurt Americans. In fact, this is exactly the kind of rhetoric and bad policy that has led to the outsourcing of good American energy jobs. Last year alone, the United States outsourced more than $100 billion worth of American jobs, economic growth, and national security to foreign countries for our energy needs. Americans are left with a supply and demand imbalance that creates higher prices at the pump and longer waits on the unemployment line." -

Posting the story so prominently on its website is certain to raise a few eyebrows and may possible be a violation of house rules, the relevant quote (from the Campaign Booklet created by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct) is here:

“As detailed below, official resources of the House must, as a general rule, be used for the performance of official business of the House, and hence those resources may not be used for campaign or political purposes. The laws and rules referenced in this section reflect "the basic principle that government funds should not be spent to help incumbents gain reelection."

What are the "official resources" to which this basic rule applies? Certainly the funds appropriated for Member, committee and other House offices are official resources, as are the goods and services purchased with those funds. Accordingly, among the resources that generally may not be used for campaign or political purposes are congressional office equipment (including the computers, telephones and fax machines), office supplies (including official stationery and envelopes), and congressional staff time.”

You can read more of the specific section here.

This may not be an explicit violation. This may be more of a spirit rather than letter issue, since the substance of the matter does fall under the purview of the Resource Committee, but by so prominantly focusing on the sitting President’s opponent, it does seem like it may.
I think there should be a least a few folks looking into this, as well as other possible violations.

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