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November 6, 2017

Honorable Doc Hastings and Board Members


Office of Congressional Ethics
U.S. House of Representatives
P.O. Box 895
Washington, DC 20515-0895

Email: oce@mail.house.gov

Re: Request to Investigate Rep. Ruben Kihuen for Violations of Ethics Rules

Dear Chairman Hastings and Board Members:

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) is a nonprofit organization dedicated
to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. We
achieve this mission by hanging a lantern over public officials who put their own interests over
the interests of the public good.

We write today to request that the Office of Congressional Ethics immediately investigate
Nevadas Representative Ruben Kihuen for violating multiple United State House of
Representatives (House) ethics rules. The rules implicated in this case are those that prohibit
Members from using official government acts and resources to fund their political campaigns.
Not only does this ensure taxpayer funded resources are not abused, but it also ensures Members
act in good faith and on merit. Put simply, violations of this rule threaten the underpinnings of
public trust and must be investigated.

In spite of the clear rule prohibiting campaign solicitations tied to official actions taken by a
Member, Representative Kihuen sent fundraising emails based upon a specific piece of
legislation. 1 Kihuens email states he is co-sponsoring the Resident Physician Shortage
Reduction Act and proceeds to advocate for the bill. He then directly requests a donation: [W]e
can make progress if we work hard enough for it. Thats why were asking: will you rush a
donation to our campaign so Ruben can keep fighting . . . . The email only has two topics: the
discussion of specific legislation and a subsequent appeal for a campaign donation.

As a Member of the House, Representative Kihuen is required to conduct himself in accordance


with the House Ethics Manual.2 The Ethics Manual states: [N]o solicitation of a campaign or

1
Exhibit A.
2
The conduct of Members of the House is governed by number of different sources, including criminal law, the
Code of Official Conduct, and the Code of Ethics for Government Service, which are incorporated into the House
Ethics Manual. House Ethics Manual, at 2-4.

www.factdc.org 1717 K Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, D.C., 20006 Phone (202) 787-5860
Page 2 of 3

political contribution may be linked to an action taken or to be taken by a Member or employee


in his or her official capacity.3 Members are to act on merit, not on partisan affiliation or for
campaign contributions.4 Thus, the Ethics Manual reiterates: no campaign contribution linked
to an official action is ever acceptable. 5 Kihuens campaign fundraising emails inextricably
intertwine a specific piece of legislation with a campaign donation. This link between the
legislation and solicitation is unacceptable, and an apparent violation of the Ethics Rules.

Moreover, Kihuens campaign website further demonstrates he is using House legislation and
House resources to bolster his campaign and to solicit funds. The homepage of Kihuens
campaign website features posts from his official House Facebook account, along with a
contribute link on the same page.6 For example, the campaign webpage includes a post from
Kihuens official House Facebook account about specific legislation that was introduced in the
House.7

The ethics rules strictly prohibit Members from using official resources for any campaign or
political purpose.8 Generally, anything paid for with House funds and staff time is an official
resource, including a Members official website and social media accounts.9 The restrictions on
the use of a Members official website and social media accounts extend to prohibiting content
that include any personal, political, or campaign information, links to campaign-related websites,
and grassroots lobbying or solicit[ing] support for a Members position.10 Kihuens official
Facebook account is an official resource that is presumably maintained with House staff time. By

3
House Ethics Manual, at 147. This broad rule is applicable to all official actions. House Ethics Manual, at 151
(emphasis in original).
4
The Ethics Manual further explains, A corollary of these rules is that Members and staff are not to take or
withhold any official action on the basis of the campaign contributions or support of the involved individuals, or
their partisan affiliation. House Ethics Manual, at 147.
5
House Ethics Manual, at 147.
6
Exhibit B. The fact that the campaign account shared the official account does not excuse the violation. Members
and staff may not do indirectly what they are barred from doing directly. House Ethics Manual, at 122.
7
Exhibit B. See also rubenforcongress.com (last accessed Nov. 3, 2017). Kihuens campaign website is using House
resources, including House floor video footage. The House ethics rules prohibit Members from using official
resources, including photographs and video of House floor proceedings, for campaign or political purposes. House
Ethics Manual, at 128 (prohibiting the use of [b]roadcast coverage and recordings of the House floor
proceedings); House Rule V(2)(c)(1) (A Member is also specifically prohibited from using House floor
recordings for any partisan political campaign purpose.). This is actually two violations: posting a House floor
video on a campaign social media account and posting on a campaign website. Even if the House floor footage was
posted by a third-party, it would be a violation to repost it. Derivative use of House floor photographs and video is
prohibited. Report of the Comm. on Ethics, In re Lujan, Aug. 1, 2017, at 12 (Members may not re-use an image of
floor proceedings published by a third-party, if the Member could not use that image in the first instance.) (citing
Memorandum from the Committee to all Members, Campaign Activity Guidance, Aug. 15, 2014, at 16).
8
House Ethics Manual, at 123-24.
9
House Ethics Manual, at 123-24; Comm. on House Admin., U.S. House of Reps., Members Congressional
Handbook, at 30. Content on official social media accounts is subject to the same requirements as content on
Member websites. Members Congressional Handbook, at 30.
10
Comm. on House Admin., U.S. House of Reps., Members Congressional Handbook, at 31.

www.factdc.org 1717 K Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, D.C., 20006 Phone (202) 787-5860
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posting his official Facebook account on his campaign website, Kihuen is using a government
resource for campaign and political purposes.

Kihuens campaign fundraising emails and campaign website show Kihuen is using House
legislation and House resources to solicit campaign fundsa direct contradiction to the House
ethics rules. The overarching implication that our Representatives are voting based upon
campaign donations also reflects poorly on the House of Representatives as a whole. 11 The
public expects, and the rules require, Members to take action based upon merit and not in an
effort to raise campaign contributions. This type of behavior is precisely why the public distrusts
elected officials.12

The Office of Congressional Ethics is responsible for ensuring each Representative fulfills the
public trust inherent to the office and complies with the Houses ethical standards. Therefore,
we urge the Board to immediately investigate and take appropriate action in response to this
apparent violation of the House Ethics Rules and the Official Code of Conduct.

To the best of my knowledge and ability, all evidence submitted was not obtained in violation of
any law, rule, or regulation. Further, I am aware that the False Statements Act, 18 U.S.C.
1001, applied to information submitted to the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Respectfully submitted,

Kendra Arnold
Executive Director
Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust

Enclosure

11
The Official Code of Conduct requires that a Member shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect
credibly on the House. House of Rep. Rule XXIII.
12
[P]ublic office is a public trust, and thus, the public has a right to expect House Members and staff to exercise
impartial judgement in performing their duties. House Ethics Manual, at 151. The prohibition of campaign or
political solicitations tied to official action ensures that governmental action is taken on the merits of the particular
question, rather than an extraneous factors. Id. This includes the appearance of impropriety, and the public
perception that an official act is not undertaken simply for fundraising purposes.

www.factdc.org 1717 K Street NW, Suite 900, Washington, D.C., 20006 Phone (202) 787-5860
Exhibit A

From: Eva Black [mailto:info@rubenforcongress.com]


Sent: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 4:01 PM
To:
Subject: [EXTERNAL] FWD: We can make progress for health care

The communities that need doctors most are unable to keep them, Jack. But, instead of working to
solve this problem, Republicans are trying to gut funding for Medicare and Medicaid!

With the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act, Ruben is working to solve Americas doctor shortage
crisis by creating more residencies in parts of the country with the greatest need.

We have to keep passionate advocates for health care like Ruben in Congress. Will you rush a donation
now to help us reach our $20,000 end of month goal? Hitting this number is critical to defending this
seat from Republican attacks:

If youve saved your information with ActBlue Express, your donation will go through immediately:

EXPRESS DONATE: $5 EXPRESS DONATE: $50

EXPRESS DONATE: $10 EXPRESS DONATE: $75


EXPRESS DONATE: $25 EXPRESS DONATE: $100

OR DONATE OTHER AMOUNT

Thanks for standing with us,


Eva

---Begin Forwarded Message---


--

For decades, Nevada has struggled with a shortage of doctors -- a struggle that has us ranked 46th in the
country when it comes to the number of doctors per capita.

Thats why Ruben is co-sponsoring the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act. This legislation
would create more residencies for new doctors and make a sorely needed investment in training the next
generation of doctors in Nevada and around the country.

But while Ruben is working hard to find more doctors, Republicans are passing a budget that cuts hundreds of
billions of dollars from Medicare and one trillion dollars from Medicaid.

Instead of gutting longstanding health care programs for millions of Americans, we need to invest in
opportunities for young doctors to work in communities where they are needed most.

Even with a Republican Congress led by Paul Ryan, we can make progress if we work hard enough for
it. Thats why were asking: will you rush a donation to our campaign so Ruben can keep fighting for
progress like this in Congress?

Team Ruben
Ruben Kihuen is the first Latino Democrat to represent Nevada in the House, where he's fighting to stop Trump and
ensure everyone has a fair shot at the American Dream.

CONTRIB UTE >>

Paid for by Ruben Kihuen for Congress

P.O. Box 458, Las Vegas, NV 89125


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EXHIBIT B