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Campaign Committees Hand Out Ethics Tips

In an effort to ensure Members of Congress adhere to new ethics rules during their respective nominating conventions, both Democratic and Republican campaign committees are issuing written reminders of the new regulations, and even providing expert contacts for advice on ethical conundrums.

According to a senior Democratic aide, House lawmakers received a memorandum detailing the new rules and interpretations by both the House and Senate ethics panels.

“We’re arming our Members with materials and emergency contacts in case they have any legal questions dealing with the convention and convention-related activities,” said the senior Democratic aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said the committee has previously issued similar information to remind Members about ethics and gift rules during the quadrennial conventions.

The National Republican Congressional Committee also plans to issue a memorandum to its members, but that document has not been finalized.

In the meantime, both the House and Senate ethics committees will continue to offer Members and aides informal advice during the conventions, although neither panel will send its own aides to Denver or Minneapolis.

In addition, organizations including Public Citizen plan to keep an eye on Members to see whether they comply with the new rules.

“We’ve got a team on the ground going to the conventions that’s trying to monitor compliance to the ethics rules or violations to the ethics rules,” Public Citizen’s Craig Holman said.

The ethics panels have previously issued several interpretations of the new rules — at times conflicting with one another — including regulations prohibiting lobbyists or lobbying groups from hosting events that honor individual Members at convention parties.

Despite the recent death of Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), who chaired the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, House aides and government watchdog groups said the panel’s efforts would not be hampered during the conventions.

“The advice that’s going to be issued by the ethics committee is going to be by the staff,” as is the typical procedure, Holman noted.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has not said publicly when she will select a successor on the ethics committee. The ethics panel is one of four panels appointed by House leaders, and there is no requirement that a new chair must already serve on the panel.

The panel’s next senior Democrat is Rep. Gene Green (Texas), followed by Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.), Mike Doyle (Pa.) and Bill Delahunt (Mass.).

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