Florida Democratic Rep. Val Demings promoted her Senate candidacy while remote attending a congressional hearing. A conservative watchdog group claims that this may have violated House ethics rules. According to a complaint filed by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, Fox News Digital obtained, Demings attended a House Judiciary Committee meeting remotely on April 5.
The complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics stated that “not only was this incident embarrassing for [Demings] and the House but a serious rule violation appears to have been present as well.”
Demings used the rules of the House to allow remote participation to the hearing on Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act. This was to help reduce the spread COVID-19. Demings voted for amendments. However, a campaign video shows Demings apologizing for not being able to hear the Judiciary Committee when she was to respond to the roll call.
“Officially I’ve been looking forward to being with Duval Caucus and here I am stuck at a markup Judiciary so my apologies for the background noise but of course, I am also listening the hearing there so I know when its time to vote,” Demings said in a recording obtained by FACT.
Demings is running for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) and joined the Duval County Democratic Black Caucus on April 5, to court Jacksonville, Florida democrats — a coalition that she will need in the general election.
Demings can also be heard voting on several amendments remotely in a video from the meeting.
Demings wasn’t the only member of the committee who was watching remotely. Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) had to remind Demings multiple times to “mute yourself unless they are voting.”
General rules govern the House. They state that members must “conduct themselves at every time in a way that reflects creditably upon the House.” FACT claims that Demings participated in a political event while attending a committee proceeding. This violated rules that require separation of campaign and congressional business.
“Demings’ dual attendance shows that she chose to attend both the hearing and a campaign event, not because of the COVID-19 pandemic but because she wanted to address the House about it. This is clearly contrary to House Resolution 965,” which established the rules for remote business in the House due to the COVID-19 emergency.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expanded the proxy voting rules and allowed remote attendance to congressional hearings in March. In consultation with the U.S., Sergeant at Arms William Walker was appointed as Sergeant at Arms. Doctor Brian Monahan, the attending physician, stated that the “public Health Emergency due to the novel coronavirus SARS–CoV-2” is still in effect.
Demings is the ex-police chief of Orlando and is running for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate. Rubio will likely face him in the November midterm elections.