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House Panels: No Solicitations for Haiti From Lawmakers’ Offices

The House Administration Committee and the House ethics panel released a “Dear Colleague— letter Monday night reminding lawmakers that while they may use their official resources to distribute information about the recent Haiti earthquake, they may not directly solicit funds for the relief efforts.The three-page letter, dated Wednesday, notes that numerous offices have “asked to what extent they may use their official resources to solicit or collect donations of goods, funds, or services on behalf of charities and other private organizations involved in relief efforts.—“We understand the good intentions of those making such inquiries, but the rules of the House preclude Members from using official resources for any purpose other than in support of the conduct of the Member’s official and representational duties on behalf of the district which he or she currently represents,— the letter states. “This has, in the past, been interpreted to mean that charitable solicitations using official resources are not permitted.—House Administration Chairman Robert Brady (D-Pa.) and ranking member Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), and ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and ranking member Jo Bonner (R-Ala) advised Members that instead they may link to other government Web sites — such as the White House or State Department — that offer information about such donations.The letter also notes that Members and staff may solicit donations to charitable organizations in their “personal capacities— — without House resources such as official mailing lists, telephones, equipment and supplies — for qualified organizations, such as 501(c)3 charities like the Red Cross.

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