Watchdog Asks House Ethics Committee to Provide Guidance Regarding Abuse of Proxy Voting
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 10, 2021
Contact: Michael Clauw, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA) sent a letter to the House Committee on Ethics asking the committee to issue guidance as to the proper use of proxy voting, first adopted by the House in May 2020. The request is in response to 13 members of the House using the pandemic as an excuse to skip in-person votes to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida. The letter was first reported on by CNN.
CfA Executive Director Michelle Kuppersmith said, “Members claiming the pandemic required them to skip votes so they can attend a political conference is like high schoolers forging a doctor’s note to play hooky. It’s disgraceful to see top government officials cavalierly treating a crisis that has killed more than half a million Americans like a get out of jail free card.”
Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Jim Banks (R-IN), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Ted Budd (R-NC), Mark Green (R-TN), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Ronny Jackson (R-TX), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Devin Nunes (R-CA), and Greg Steube (R-FL) all filed letters with the Clerk of the House designating voting proxies “due to the ongoing public health emergency” in order to travel to attend CPAC. Knowingly submitting a false statement to the Clerk appears to violate a House rule requiring members’ behavior to “reflect creditably” upon the body.
The option to vote remotely via proxy was voted on and added to the House rules in May 2020 to accommodate pandemic-related concerns during an unprecedented public health crisis, and has since been used by representatives from both parties over 1,000 times. Instead of using the proxy voting system to avoid unnecessary in-person interaction as intended, the 13 representatives did the opposite by traveling to participate in an indoor mass gathering where many participants refused to wear masks.
Notably, the entire Republican conference voted against proxy voting and 21 Republican representatives, including Rep. Green, filed a lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House clerks to block proxy voting, alleging it is unconstitutional. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) previously called proxy voting “a dereliction of our duty as elected officials,” but has offered no criticism of the members of his caucus who attended CPAC.
Ms. Kuppersmith continued, “The representatives who chose CPAC over voting made it clear they value political opportunism over their roles as members of Congress. The House Ethics Committee must make clear that members who abuse the privilege of proxy voting will be held accountable.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.