For Immediate Release
Naomi Seligman 202.408.5565
CREW Files Ethics Complaint Against Rep. Eric Cantor for Creating Taxpayer-Funded Political Organization
WASHINGTON - Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed a complaint with the House Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) requesting an investigation into Rep. Eric Cantor's recently created organization, the National Council for a New America (NCNA).
NCNA includes an informal member caucus made up of Republican members of Congress, and an associated advisory group consisting of current and former Republican governors and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). The group is operated by Rep. Cantor's office, his staff organized the group and its initial town hall event and created its website, and his spokesman is listed as the group's contact.
Rep. Cantor has asserted that NCNA's purpose is to build and improve the Republican Party. Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) said the organization "will help those of us in Republican leadership positions build a Republican Party . . ." Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) described NCNA as "a caucus of Congressional leaders gathering the expertise of national leaders and doers in an effort to rebuild and rebrand the Republican Party."
House ethics rules prohibit official House resources from being used for campaign or political purposes. Because NCNA appears to be a political organization, CREW has asked OCE to determine whether Rep. Cantor has violated House rules by using his office resources to support NCNA. While Rep. Cantor and others claim NCNA is a legitimate policy organization for which official funds can properly be expended, their statements to the media that the group's purpose is to rebuild and rebrand the Republican Party belie that claim.
In addition, House rules allow members to hold town hall meetings only in their own districts. As a result, by holding NCNA's first town hall meeting in Arlington, Virginia, which is not in Rep. Cantor's district or that of any other NCNA member, Rep. Cantor violated House rules.
CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan stated, "Applying the old adage: if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it probably is a duck, NCNA looks political and Rep. Cantor and the group's other members talk about it in political terms so it must be a political organization." Sloan continued, "The real reason Rep. Cantor is disingenuously claiming the group is a policy organization is to leave American taxpayers footing NCNA's bills. The Office of Congressional Ethics should make it perfectly clear: lawmakers are free to create political organizations, but they can't use our money to pay for them."
Read CREW's letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics and attached exhibits in the Related Documents section on the right.
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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.