A conservative watchdog group has asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to look into whether Nevada Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen inappropriately solicited campaign donations.
The letter, sent Monday by the Washington D.C.-based Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, or FACT, said Kihuen’s re-election campaign sent a fundraising email that touted his support for current legislation and also used congressional resources for political fundraising, both of which it says violate House ethics rules.
“The public expects, and the rules require, members to take action based upon merit and not in an effort to raise campaign contributions. This type of behavior is precisely why the public distrusts elected officials,” the group wrote.
The allegations come about three weeks after the Nevada Democratic Party levied similar ethics complaints against Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller.
Specifically, the group says an email Kihuen’s campaign sent Oct. 25 touted his co-sponsorship of the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act before soliciting donations for his re-election bid.
The House ethics manual says that “no solicitation of a campaign or political contribution may be linked to an action taken or to be taken by a member or employee in his or her official capacity.”
It also accuses Kihuen of inappropriately using official resources for his campaign because his re-election website features posts from his official Facebook account, which the group says violates another House ethics rule.
“These are pretty basic and straightforward ethics rules. These are the ones that separate campaigns from government work.” said Kendra Arnold, executive director for FACT. “It really threatens citizens’ confidence in our members. And it’s disrespectful to taxpayers as well.”
Kihuen’s campaign declined to comment on the letter Monday.
The Center for Responsive Politics wrote last year that FACT was formed in 2014 as a “conservative counterweight to watchdog groups viewed as more left-of-center.” The site also noted that while FACT says it is dedicated to transparency and accountability, it receives much of its funding from DonorsTrust, a conservative donor-advised fund that allows contributors to stay anonymous.