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Clyde makes good on fighting magnetometer fine in federal court

The Georgia Republican has downplayed the violence surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol

Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, center, flanked by GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, right, and attorney Ken Cuccinelli, hold a news conference outside the Capitol on Monday to announce a federal lawsuit challenging fines levied for bypassing the House floor magnotometers.
Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, center, flanked by GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, right, and attorney Ken Cuccinelli, hold a news conference outside the Capitol on Monday to announce a federal lawsuit challenging fines levied for bypassing the House floor magnotometers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Andrew Clyde, the Georgia Republican fined $15,000 for skirting magnetometers on two occasions near the House floor, is fighting the penalty in federal court.

Clyde, along with Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican fined $5,000 for circumventing the security screening, filed a lawsuit Sunday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging the House rule that imposes such fines violates the Constitution on two fronts.

“House Resolution 73 (H.Res. 73) detains members from engaging in their duties to those they represent, in clear violation of Article I of the Constitution, and seeks to fine Republicans, in violation of the 27th Amendment, to gain undue influence over their behavior and to further Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi’s false political narrative,” Clyde said in a statement Monday.

In February, the House adopted a rule that fines members $5,000 if they fail to complete security screening at the entrance to the floor, and $10,000 for subsequent violations. When the House Ethics Committee announced it denied Clyde’s appeal in April, the lawmaker said he would take the matter to federal court. The Ethics panel denied Gohmert’s appeal in March.

The lawsuit names House Sergeant-at-Arms William J. Walker and House Chief Administrative Officer Catherine Szpindor as defendants. The House sergeant-at -arms is tasked under the rule as the official who imposes the fine and the chief administrative officer is to deduct the fine from the member in the case they don’t pay it within 90 days.

Clyde argued that Republicans are being unfairly targeted by the policy, which was approved by the Democrat-controlled House.

Previously, Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis, the ranking Republican on the House Administration Committee, wrote to former acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy P. Blodgett, alleging that Pelosi avoided a security screening in February on her way to the floor. Blodgett responded to Davis that he directed the Capitol Police to notify him of anyone who breaks the rule “without exception.”

In May, the Ethics panel announced House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., and Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., both successfully appealed $5,000 fines.

In his statement Monday, Clyde said, “It has been interesting to watch the Sergeant at Arms fail to issue a fine to the Speaker after incontrovertible video evidence showed she violated her own rules. It has been even more interesting to witness Ethics Committee Democrats pardon their own Whip, Jim Clyburn, for his violation, in a biased, rubber stamped flip-flop.”

Clyde gained attention recently when he said there was “not an insurrection” on Jan. 6 and compared that day’s violence and mayhem to a “normal tourist visit.” He has also criticized the Capitol Police officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt, a pro-Trump rioter attempting to climb through a broken window at the Speaker’s Lobby, which abuts the House chamber. Clyde was among the members on Jan. 6 helping to barricade the House chamber from the inside to repel the mob.

Clyde’s legal team includes Ken Cuccinelli, former deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security in the Trump administration and a former Virginia attorney general and Trey Mayfield, whose clients include Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO.

It is also not the first lawsuit to be filed by Republicans challenging the operations of the House. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, along with other members of his conference, signed on to a lawsuit filed in May 2020 challenging the constitutionality of proxy voting during the coronavirus pandemic. Republican members have since voted by proxy.

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