The Orlando Democrat challenging U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has been hit with an ethics complaint. An advocacy group accuses Rep. Val Demings of schlepping for her Senate campaign while she was on the clock for her current day job – a violation of House rules.
According to Fox News Digital, the House Judiciary Committee met on April 5 to discuss anti-terrorism legislation. Demings attended that hearing remotely. Demings even voted on amendments to the bill while utilizing the mechanism Congress established to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Yet as she was doing the people’s business that day, Demings was on Zoom with the Duval County Democratic Black Caucus, a group from Jacksonville, pumping up her bid to unseat Rubio, a two-term Republican.
As Fox News noted, at one point, Demings even apologized for having to monitor the House hearing during her comments to the activists in Jacksonville.
“Of course I’ve been looking so forward to being with the Duval Caucus, and here I am stuck in a markup in Judiciary so I apologize for the background noise, but of course I am also listening to the hearing there, so I know when it is time for me to vote,” Demings tells the Florida group, according to a recording obtained by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, the conservative watchdog that filed the ethics complaint.
“You all know my opponent in this race, someone who votes against things that are good for Florida,” Demings continued in talking to the Black Caucus.
“Someone that really doesn’t… Excuse me, I am waiting for my name to be called. Someone who does not believe in climate change, he says winter, spring, summer, and fall. I’m running against someone who likes to pick winners and losers based on their ability to pay to play,” she added.
Then, apparently lacking self-awareness, she told the Duval group, “Hold on just a second. No, no. Okay, I’m sorry, thank you all so much. Um, and also, my opponent doesn’t like showing up for work.”
In its complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics, FACT noted, “Quite amazingly, Demings is heard speaking to the political event during the recorded vote until the Committee Chairman has to tell her that she is unmuted. Not only was this incident an embarrassing moment for her, and for the House, but a serious rules violation appears to be present as well.”
FACT added, “The House ethics rules require strict separation between campaign and official acts. This rule is applicable to every type of official activity, for instance a Member cannot campaign from government buildings, use official resources for campaign purposes, or have any political information on official social media pages or websites.”
“Therefore, we urge the Board to immediately investigate Representative Demings for abusing the House rules authorizing remote attendance at committee hearings due to COVID-19 to attend a political event—conduct that clearly does not reflect creditably on the House.
In response to the Florida Politics website, Sen. Rubio’s campaign said, “In less than one year, Val Demings has racked up an eye-popping four ethics violations — and Washington Democrats are letting her get away with it.”
“Floridians deserve better than a [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi Puppet who will consistently bend the rules to promote her own political future.”