OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
California Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff’s situation has gone from bad to worse after being booted off the House Intelligence Committee earlier this week by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
On Friday, Schiff was hit with an ethics complaint by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), an organization that has requested an immediate investigation into use of video footage from the Senate floor in an ad announcing his bid for a U.S. Senate seat likely to be vacated by Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The ethics watchdog group sent the complaint to the chief counsel for the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) and asked for an investigation into whether Schiff “abused official resources for political purposes” by using the video.
The California congressman announced his 2024 run for Senate on Thursday in a video that was shared on his Twitter account. Footage of Schiff speaking on the Senate floor during former President Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings was included in that video.
Our democracy is at great risk. Because GOP leaders care more about power than anything else.
And because our economy isn’t working for millions of hard working Americans.
We’re in the fight of our lives—a fight I’m ready to lead as California’s next U.S. Senator. pic.twitter.com/H0Pa0EhhMu
— Adam Schiff (@AdamSchiff) January 26, 2023
“This is a clear violation of House ethics rules and federal law,” Kendra Arnold, executive director of FACT, said in a statement. “Rep. Schiff has been in Congress for over two decades and undoubtedly knows that official government resources cannot be used for political purposes.
“Rep. Schiff must immediately take down the video and cease distribution of the footage, and the Office of Congressional Ethics should move swiftly to investigate and sanction Rep. Schiff for this breach,” Arnold continued.
The Schiff campaign refuted the claims, saying that the congressman did not violate any ethics rules because the video was from the floor of the Senate, not the House.
“House ethics rules prohibit the use of House floor or committee footage for campaign purposes — the rules do not apply to footage from the Senate, which is what was used in Congressman Schiff’s video,” a campaign spokesperson told Fox News Digital. “No footage from any House proceeding was used in the video, and Congressman Schiff was fully in compliance with House ethics guidelines.”
But FACT says that House members are not permitted to use any video footage from either chamber of Congress for their campaigns.
“Federal law states that ‘appropriations shall be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made except as otherwise provided by law,'” the complaint noted. “To enforce this law, the ethics rules prohibit members from using any official resource for campaign or political purposes. ‘Official resources’ includes anything funded by taxpayers, such as a member’s official website, social media accounts, and photographs and video from the House or Senate floor.
“To make it abundantly clear, both the House ethics rules and Senate rules specifically identify congressional video of floor proceedings as official resources that members are prohibited from using for political purposes,” the complaint adds.
Others sided with FACT, including Politico reporter Anthony Adragna, who shared the video and asked this question: “Is Schiff allowed to use footage from the Senate floor in this announcement?”
Roll Call chief correspondent Niels Lesniewski responded by saying, “Could be ok. He’s not a senator, and it looks like they used NBC TV footage of the floor, which is a common workaround.”
However, according to a House Ethics Committee report from 2017, that is not an acceptable alternative.
“Members may not re-use an image of a floor proceeding published by a third-party, if the member could not use that image in the first instance,” the committee ruled.
Schiff announced his candidacy for the seat long held by Feinstein, though she has yet to announce her retirement officially.
“Our democracy is at great risk. Because GOP leaders care more about power than anything else. And because our economy isn’t working for millions of hard-working Americans. We’re in the fight of our lives—a fight I’m ready to lead as California’s next U.S. Senator,” he said in a tweet.
“We’re in the fight of our lives—a fight I’m ready to lead as California’s next U.S. Senator,” he said in his campaign video.