The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Garrett Russo 202.408.5565

CREW Files Ethics Complaint Against Reps. Sessions and Fitzpatrick


Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
filed an ethics complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE)
against Rep. Peter Sessions (R-TX) and Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA)
for blatant violations of House rules, federal law and the U.S.
Constitution. CREW's complaint follows the revelation that both men
skipped the swearing-in ceremony for the 112th Congress in favor of
attending a fundraiser for Rep. Fitzpatrick. During this fundraiser,
they made an invalid attempt to take their oath by watching it on TV,
and then proceeded to participate in official House business. None of
this is legal.

"Republicans have made strict adherence to the Constitution a
hallmark of the new Congress," said CREW Executive Director Melanie
Sloan. "Now we will find out if that was just window dressing designed
to appease the tea party movement or if they were sincere. Two
Republican House members have blatantly violated not only House rules,
but federal law and the Constitution. Will they be held accountable, or
given a pass?"

Both the U.S. Constitution and federal law explicitly ban people who
are not sworn members of Congress from participating in official House
business. Despite missing the swearing-in, Reps. Sessions and
Fitzpatrick voted six times on various issues, and Rep. Fitzpatrick
participated in the reading of the Constitution on the House floor. Rep.
Sessions participated in a House Rules Committee hearing, which was
adjourned because the congressman had not been sworn in. Speaker Boehner
administered the oath of office to the two representatives on January
6th, and the House passed legislation to "clean up" the problem by
nullifying their previous votes.

Rep. Fitzpatrick claimed the event in the Capitol Visitors Center was
merely a reception and not a fundraiser. This explanation doesn't pass
the smell test. A copy of the invitation to the fundraiser was posted on
the Fitzpatrick for Congress website, and directed all questions to
Rep. Fitzpatrick's campaign committee. The invitation lists a $30 per
person cost, permits a donor to select a specified number of tickets,
and lists contribution amounts of $30, $60, $90, $120, as well as
"others." Furthermore, the invitation also instructs individuals who
prefer to donate by check to make checks payable to Fitzpatrick for
Congress. Rep. Sessions (who been chair of the NRCC since 2008) was a
guest at this fundraiser

"It is incumbent on Speaker Boehner and Republicans to handle these
clear ethics violations in the same vigorous way as the violations of
Democratic members Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Maxine Waters (D-CA) have
been pursued," said Sloan. "This new Congress has an opportunity to
demonstrate to the American people that no member of Congress is above
the law."

Click here to read CREW's request for investigation.

Click here to read CREW's exhibits.

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.