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Grayson Email May Run Afoul of House Ethics Rules (Updated)

Grayson's campaign email listed the phone numbers of 18 fellow Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Grayson's campaign email listed the phone numbers of 18 fellow Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 7:35 p.m. |  Rep. Alan Grayson may have taken his criticism of fellow Democrats who support “fast-track” legislation a little too far in an email to supporters that included a fundraising link.  

The Florida congressman, who could announce a Senate bid  any day, made a bold pitch to “petition your government to redress your grievances” and listed the names and D.C. office phone numbers for 18 House Democrats said to be leaning in favor of a contentious Trade Promotion Authority package backed by the president. A line in the House Ethics Manual states that House office addresses or telephone numbers “should not be included on any political communication.” But the situation is tricky, because the language is part of a section on campaign activity that warns against directing contributions to a House office.  

Grayson’s message lays out six talking points against the bill, in addition to listing supporters. “As a public service, we provide you their office phone numbers,” the message states. It contains a link to the left-leaning site ActBlue, where people can make a contribution above a photo of Grayson.  

From a House Rules standpoint, the email is also concerning because of its connection to future official action. From that perspective, it’s possible the message is a violation of House Rule 24, which prohibits the use of campaign resources for official communications.  

Grayson denied any wrongdoing in a phone interview with CQ Roll Call.  

“There is not any basis for a complaint here,” Grayson said, calling the allegations, “frivolous.”  

Grayson said the rule on not including official contact information is really about putting a member’s own House phone number or address in political communication — information his email did not include.  

“Official communications are heavily regulated,” he said of the reference to House Rule 24. The email was not addressed to constituents, but to a list of people who signed on as supporters. “It’s not even a close question,” he said.  

The email bashing fellow Democrats on Tuesday garnered criticism from House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md.  

“I think Mr. Grayson’s actions are not helpful and I don’t think fair to other members,” Hoyer said. “Members ought to refrain from directing pressure at their colleagues. That doesn’t mean their colleagues won’t get pressure, but it ought not to be directed by other members.”  

A spokesman for the House Ethics Committee had no comment.  

Emma Dumain contributed to this report. 

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