WASHINGTON – An ethics group is alleging that U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson improperly aided the campaign of his onetime aide, 6th District candidate Jon Ossoff, using his official House website.
The conservative-leaning Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, or FACT, said it plans to file an ethics complaint against the Lithonia Democrat with the Office of Congressional Ethics Monday.
The group wants the independent ethics office to investigate Johnson for potentially running aground of a House ethics rule that bars lawmakers from using their taxpayer-funded office for partisan campaign activities.
Specifically, FACT alleges that Johnson was using his official website to campaign for Ossoff, his former aide who is now facing off against Republican Karen Handel in the runoff to replace health Secretary Tom Price in the House of Representatives.
The group points to links to recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution stories about Ossoff and 6th District voting that were recently featured on Johnson's official website. The links were removed over the weekend, shortly after the AJC requested comment for this story.
The House Ethics Manual states a lawmaker's official website "may not include personal, political or campaign information."
"Representative Johnson has simply disregarded the rule and is blatantly using his official website for partisan purposes and campaign related activity," FACT Executive Director Matthew Whitaker wrote to the Office of Congressional Ethics in a letter that will be sent today. "Not only is it troubling that Johnson has breached a basic rule that ensures the public's confidence that our House Members are working for the citizens and not for their own personal political gain, but he has misused taxpayer funded resources."
Johnson's office did not respond to requests for comment. An Ossoff campaign spokeswoman declined to comment.
FACT previously filed ethics complaints against U.S. Rep. John Lewis for allegedly fundraising off of the gun control sit-in he led on the House floor last year and improperly hiring his top aide on his reelection campaign. The Office of Congressional Ethics has yet to pursue any public action in conjunction with either compliant.