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Democrats call for ethics probe into GOP over "trackers" in House buildings

Impeachment trial could start next Tuesday
Impeachment trial could start next Tuesday 01:53

Washington — The campaign arm for House Democrats is calling for an ethics investigation into its Republican counterpart over the use of so-called "trackers" to record videos of Democratic lawmakers in House office buildings.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics on Monday against the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and its chairman, Congressman Tom Emmer of Minnesota.

The DCCC, which helps Democrats get elected to the House, accused the NRCC of violating House ethics rules through the "apparent egregious misuse of official House resources for political purposes" by deploying "staff and/or agents" to House office buildings to take videos of Democratic lawmakers that are then used in campaign material.

"House ethics rules prohibiting the use of official resources for political purposes exist in large part to establish and maintain decorum and order in the House of Representatives," Lucinda Guinn, executive director of the DCCC, wrote in the complaint. "These rules ensure that members prioritize serving their constituents, making laws, and upholding and defending the Constitution above electoral politics and cheap partisan shots."

The DCCC argues the NRCC and its staff "appear to have violated these well-established rules."

The complaint cites numerous videos posted to the NRCC's Twitter account that show staff asking Democrats in House office buildings and hallways about President Trump's impeachment, their own re-election efforts and the targeted strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran's elite Quds Force.

On January 9, the NRCC shared 10 videos of Democrats filmed by "trackers" in House office buildings, the complaint says.

"The House Ethics Manual clearly and unequivocally states that House buildings and offices constitute official resources and must not be used for campaign or political activities," Guinn wrote. "But that is exactly what Representative Emmer, through NRCC, appears to have done here."

Chris Pack, the NRCC's communications director, accused its Democratic counterpart of using a taxpayer-funded agency for a "political publicity stunt."

"Absolutely disgusting that @CheriBustos would use the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to attack Congressman Tom Emmer. This is such an 'egregious misuse of official House resources for political purposes,'" Pack said in a second tweet. Bustos, a Democrat from Illinois, is the chairwoman of the DCCC.

Trackers are typically used on the campaign trail, and the DCCC notes that according to the House Ethics Manual, House buildings and offices "may not be used for the conduct of campaign or political activities."

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