WASHINGTON - January 24 - Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has prepared an ethics complaint against Acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). CREW is releasing the complaint in the hopes of finding a Member of the House of Representatives willing to forward the complaint to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for consideration.
CREW is not filing the complaint directly with the Committee because only Members of the House can do so. Any Member of the House can, however, certify that CREW's complaint has a good faith basis and forward the complaint to the Ethics Committee, stating that the complaint merits the Committee's consideration.
CREW's ethics complaint against Rep. Blunt alleges that he violated numerous House ethics rules by providing legislative assistance that benefitted his family members and resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to his political committees.
"If rooting out corruption in the House of Representatives is truly a priority for both parties, then we ask a member, any member, to put their money where their mouth is and file this complaint against Acting House Majority Leader Roy Blunt," Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today. "We urge members to end the ethics 'truce' and cease abdicating their responsibility to police the conduct of their colleagues."
Allegations in the complaint include:
In November 2002, hours after he was named new Majority Whip, Rep. Blunt attempted to secretly insert a provision into pending legislation that would have benefitted Philip Morris at the expense of its competitors. Philip Morris, a division of the conglomerate Altria Group Inc., is Rep. Blunt's largest campaign contributor. Within days of the announcement of Rep. Blunt's new position, Altria donated a hefty $32,400 to Rep. Blunt's political action committee (PAC). In addition, Rep. Blunt was dating Philip Morris's lobbyist, Abigail Perlman, whom he has since married.
In 2003, Rep. Blunt introduced a legislative provision that would have benefitted United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx by preventing competition from a foreign-owned shipper. Within months of inserting the provision, Rep. Blunt received almost $20,000 in campaign contributions from the two companies. In addition, Rep. Blunt's son, Andrew Blunt, worked as a lobbyist for UPS.
By accepting campaign contributions from Altria, UPS, and FedEx, in apparent exchange for legislative assistance, Rep. Blunt may have violated the federal bribery laws. 18 U.S.C. Section 201(b)(2)(A). Furthermore, Rep. Blunt's introduction of legislation that benefitted Philip Morris and UPS and, as a consequence, his family members, may have violated a federal regulation that prohibits members from taking official actions for their own personal gain or that of anyone else. 5 CFR Section 2635.702(a).
Rep. Blunt participated in an elaborate money-laundering scheme with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) during the 2000 presidential campaign. The scheme was designed to hide the source and use of funds solicited for the expressed purpose of financing Republican convention parties. Reps. Blunt and DeLay intentionally raised funds in excess of what they needed for the parties and diverted almost $100,000 to the Missouri Republican Party to help finance Rep. Blunt's son, Matt Blunt's, campaign for Secretary of State, a further violation of 5 CFR Section 2635.702(a) as well as House rules prohibiting conduct that does not reflect creditably on the House.
Rep. Blunt signed three letters to Interior Department Secretary Gale Norton on behalf of Indian tribal clients of former lobbyist and convicted felon Jack Abramoff and he opposed legislation harmful to another Abramoff client, a garment manufacturer in the Northern Marianas Islands. In return, Rep. Blunt received campaign contributions from Abramoff and his clients. Such conduct may have violated federal bribery laws.
CREW's complaint against Rep. Blunt is available by clicking: http://www.citizensforethics.org/activities/campaign.php?view=94.