Skip to content

Campus Notebook: COVID-19 keeps hitting Capitol community

Rep. Buchanan staffer dies from COVID-19

Storm clouds pass over the Capitol dome as a severe thunderstorm approaches Washington on Wednesday, July 22, 2020.
Storm clouds pass over the Capitol dome as a severe thunderstorm approaches Washington on Wednesday, July 22, 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Buchanan staffer dies of COVID-19

Gary Tibbetts, a longtime staffer for Rep. Vern Buchanan, died Friday from COVID-19. The Florida Republican issued a tribute to Tibbetts on Twitter:

“Gary was the consummate professional and a true public servant in every sense of the word. He touched so many lives and was loved and respected by those who knew him. I will never forget his uplifting spirit, sense of humor and sheer joy at helping others. Sandy and I offer our deepest sympathies to his wife, Valerie and family. He will be missed greatly.”

COVID-19 cases increasing on Capitol Hill

There are at least 81 front-line workers in the Capitol complex who have tested positive — or are presumed positive— for the novel coronavirus, as of July 21, according to Ashley Phelps, communications director for House Administration Committee Republicans.

That number marks an increase of 15 cases since June 19.

At least 24 Capitol Police employees have tested positive.

At least 24 Architect of the Capitol employees have tested positive or are presumed. Five are presumed positive.

And 33 workers assigned to the Cannon House Office Building renovation project have tested positive or are presumed positive for the coronavirus. Three are presumed positive.

Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., spent leadership PAC money in London. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Holding spent nearly 18K in leadership PAC funds at East India Club abroad

Rep. George Holding’s leadership political action committee, Conservative Roundtable, spent just under $18,000 on lodging, food and drinks at the East India Club in London since 2018, a CQ Roll Call examination of Federal Election Commission filings show.

The private, all-male England club is billed as “a home from home for dynamic, sociable and hardworking gentlemen.” Holding, a North Carolina Republican, lives in Raleigh, a city thousands of miles away from the club.

Campaign committee funds cannot be used for personal use and are prohibited by the FEC. However, leadership PACs, which are distinct from campaign committees, were established to be used by federal lawmakers to support other candidates for offices. Using Conservative Roundtable funds for personal use is not necessarily a violation of FEC rules or federal law, but it is a violation of House rules, which broadly define the term “campaign funds” to include leadership PAC funds, according to the House Ethics Manual.

[jwp-video n=”1″]

Holding, through a spokesman, emailed a statement to CQ Roll Call: “As Co-Chair of the U.K. Caucus and Co-Chair of the British American Parliamentary Group, I’ve travelled to London at no expense to the taxpayer for the purpose of developing and maintaining a leadership role on U.K./U.S. issues,” Holding said. “In addition, I have developed a supporter base with the American ex-patriot community in the U.K.”

Women are not allowed to join the East India Club, according to the club’s constitution.

“In accordance with its constitution, membership of the East India is available only to gentlemen. However the club welcomes ladies as guests of members, has a contingent of honorary ladies and reciprocal ladies can make full use of the clubhouse. For those wishing to join a traditional ladies only membership club you are recommended to The University Women’s Club and their clubhouse in Mayfair.”

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

At least one senator knows what having student loan debt is like

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an Arizona Democrat, made over $25,000 teaching at Arizona State University, her 2019 financial disclosure form shows. She owes between $15,000 and $50,000 in student loans she incurred in 2002 to Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority in Chesterfield, Mo. The interest rate is 3.28 percent.

Office of Congressional Ethics quarterly report reveals new investigations

The Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative entity of the House, has opened three investigations since June 1, according to its second quarter report released Thursday.

The three newly opened investigations show that the office’s board members found information presented provides a “reasonable basis” that a violation may have occurred.

Eventually if the Office of Congressional Ethics finds there is a “substantial reason” to believe a violation could have happened, the office can transmit matters for review to the House Ethics Committee.

In the 116th Congress, the Office of Congressional Ethics began a preliminary review on 18 matters, six of which were sent to the Ethics Committee for further review.