Last month Ed noted that the House Ethics Committee was opening an investigation into apparent moonlighting by Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson. Tuesday, the Office of Congressional Ethics published a 74-page report detailing its findings recommending the committee undertake a full investigation of multiple allegations against Grayson. From the report, here are the six separate areas where Grayson may have violated house rules and/or federal law:
This Office of Congressional Ethics (“OCE”) review focused on numerous alleged violations involving Representative Alan Grayson, the majority of which relate to his leadership and ownership of a hedge fund and law firms, omissions from his annual financial disclosure forms, and the use of official resources for unofficial purposes. The OCE’s report focuses on conduct in six areas: (1) the receipt of compensation and use of Representative Grayson’s name by entities that provided professional services involving a fiduciary relationship; (2) Representative Grayson’s agreement to accept contingent fees in cases involving the government that would incorporate work performed by other attorneys during Representative Grayson’s time in office; (3) significant omissions from Representative Grayson’s annual financial disclosure forms; (4) contracts with the federal government that Representative Grayson held indirectly as a member of three limited partnerships while he served in Congress; (5) the use of official resources by Representative Grayson’s staffer to support Representative Grayson’s hedge fund; and (6) Representative Grayson’s participation in campaign interviews from his congressional office.
The report then goes on to state that there is “substantial reason to believe” that Grayson violated the rules in each of these areas. For instance:
The Board recommends that the Committee further review the allegation that Representative Grayson used official resources for campaign purposes, as there is substantial reason to believe that Representative Grayson improperly participated in campaign-focused interviews from his official office.
That’s a reference to Grayson using his House office to do interviews about his current campaign for Senate. Just to focus on that violation for a moment, there is really no doubt that Grayson used his office and a government computer with a webcam to announce his Senate campaign. We know because a reporter who saw the broadcast on HuffPost Live contacted the office to ask why he did it:
On July 10, 2015, the day after the HuffPost Live Interview, the Campaign Senior Advisor received an inquiry from a reporter asking for an “explanation” for why Representative Grayson conducted the “his announcement for HuffPost live from his House office.” The press inquiry produced a significant amount internal discussion between Representative Grayson’s congressional and campaign staff about an appropriate response. Initially Representative Grayson’s Communications Director said, “[the reporter] asked if ethics violation. I’m 90% sure it’s not.” Representative Grayson’s Communications Director eventually acknowledged “rules are pretty clear on it. Should not have happened.” There was continued internal discussion from the campaign of whether it was possible to identify the congressional office in the video.
When Grayson was asked why this had happened by the Office of Congressional Ethics, he claimed he’d been busy with votes that day and had no other choice but to break the rules if he wanted to do the interview that day. Grayson also denied taking calls for subsequent interviews that day from his office even though his own Communications Director told the OCE he did so. There is even an email in which Grayson seemed to take responsibility for allowing the interview to happen:
But when asked about this by the OCE, Grayson claimed he wasn’t really taking responsibility:
Representative Grayson told the OCE that when he responded “Me too” he was trying to console his employee and provide emotional support. Representative Grayson told the OCE, “I certainly did not agree that it was my fault, in any sense. I’m not responsible for making these kinds of judgments.”
Again, this is just one of six potential violations for which the OCE has collected evidence against Grayson. But, despite the evidence, Grayson’s campaign claims the whole effort is a “fishing expedition” instigated by his primary opponent Rep. Patrick Murphy.
Grayson and Murphy are competing for the Senate seat being vacated by Marco Rubio. Recent polling shows a dead heat with Grayson at 33% and Murphy at 32 percent.