The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Matt Jacob 202.408.5565

CREW Files Ethics Complaint Against Sen. John McCain Over Robocalls in Five States Paid for by NRSC


Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee against Senator John
McCain (R-AZ) for using National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC)
funds to pay for robocalls in five other senators' home states, urging
passage of his motion to send healthcare legislation back to the Senate
Finance Committee.

Sen. McCain reportedly recorded a series of robocalls urging
Senators Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Ben Nelson
(D-NE), Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) to support his
motion. A spokeswoman for the NRSC said the calls were being made
statewide and targeted independent voters.

The script for the Arkansas call read:

On Monday I introduced the first Republican amendment to
the massive health care bill, which would send the bill back to the
Senate Finance Committee and stop the Democrats from cutting vital
Medicare coverage for our seniors. I need Sen. Blanche Lincoln to join
me in this effort. If you agree with me, please go to our website at and sign a petition to Sen. Lincoln urging
her to join my effort to fight a Washington DC government takeover of
your health care.

CREW's complaint alleges Sen. McCain violated Senate Rule 38, which
prohibits senators from maintaining "unofficial office accounts,"
meaning they cannot use private donations to support official senate
activities and expenses. By urging voters to call their senators to
urge them to support his motion, Sen. McCain was engaged in grassroots
lobbying. This activity clearly was related to Sen. McCain's official
duties. By using an outside entity's funds -- those of the NRSC -- to
pay for expenses related to his official duties, Sen. McCain violated
Senate rules.

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, said "The rules are clear:
if Sen. McCain wanted to lobby voters in an effort to see his motion
passed he should have paid for the calls himself. Ethics rules are not
optional; all the rules apply all the time, not just the ones senators
like and not just when it is convenient to follow them." Sloan
continued, "The Senate Ethics Committee should investigate the funding
for the calls and if the NRSC in fact paid for them, sanction Sen.
McCain appropriately."

Click here to read CREW's letter to the Senate Ethics Committee.

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.