John Lewis and other Democrats face ethics complaint over sit-in

House Democrats' 26-hour sit-in may have won them the national spotlight and praise on social media last week, but the history-making protest has also earned them something else: an ethics complaint.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, an independent conservative-leaning ethics watchdog group, on Monday filed a complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics arguing that several participants, including Atlanta Democrat John Lewis, broke the chamber's ethics rules by fundraising off the protest.

Here's more from USA Today's congressional ethics guru Paul Singer:

At least two Democrats, Jared Huffman of California and Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, sent fundraising emails during the sit-in featuring images of them engaged in the protest on the House floor.

House rules also prohibit fundraising inside a federal building, but Rep. Jan Schkowsky, D-Ill., sent a fundraising email Wednesday night saying "I'm asking you while sitting here on the House floor" for a donation. Schakowsky was not named in the FACT complaint.

The group called for investigations into the fundraising activities of Huffman, Lujan and members of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It also called out Lewis and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., for signing a fundraising email to supporters based off the events transpiring on the House floor.

"This type of behavior is precisely why the public distrusts elected officials," the complaint states.

We've reached out to Lewis' office and will update when we hear back.

House Speaker Paul Ryan also called out Democrats' fundraising efforts during a press conference last week. The Wisconsin Republican had this to say when asked about whether he will take any action against Democrats for breaking the chamber's rules:

"We are reviewing everything right now as to what happened and how to make sure that we can bring order to this chaos.

This is the people's house. This is Congress, the House of Representatives, the oldest democracy in the world and they're descending it into chaos. This isn't a proud moment for democracy or for the people who staged these stunts."

It is also against the rules to take photos or videos on the House floor. Lawmakers openly flaunted that rule throughout the day-long sit-in.

Check out more of our sit-in coverage:

‘Reliving my life’: John Lewis’ experience at heart of Capitol sit-in

Democrats wind down gun control sit-in after nearly 26 hours

House Democrats continue gun sit-in after Republicans adjourn

John Lewis leading gun control sit-in on House floor

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About the Author

Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman
Tamar Hallerman is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Washington correspondent, covering Congress, federal agencies and other government activities that...
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