Skip to comments.Rep. Kanjorski staffers snared by ethics rules
Posted on 05/22/2010 5:10:26 PM PDT by Born Conservative
Rep. Paul Kanjorski's staffers may have violated House ethics rules by using a list of congressional interns to recruit election workers for his 2008 re-election campaign.
House rules prohibit using official government documents for electioneering.
Kanjorski Legislative Director Kate McMahon used her House e-mail account to send an attachment listing interns who had worked in the Democratic congressman's office from 2004-08. "Volunteer potential" was the message sent along with the list.
A copy of the e-mail was mailed anonymously to several publications including the Pocono Record. According to Politico, in a story published early this week, a Democratic source obtained a copy of the correspondence in an e-mail chain.
Kanjorski campaign spokesman Ed Mitchell said he couldn't verify the authenticity of this or other photocopied e-mails sent to the media. He noted some were sent on campaign-funded BlackBerry devices, which is allowed by campaign rules.
None of the interns performed campaign work on government time, he said.
"They were asked if they wanted to work in future campaigns and volunteered to do so after they left government employ," Mitchell said in a written statement to the Pocono Record. "We have implemented a new, compliant policy."
Melanie Sloan, executive director of a congressional watchdog group called the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called it "wrong" to potentially pressure young interns to work for the campaign. But she told Politico Kanjorski isn't likely to face serious trouble if his office implemented new procedures, as Mitchell stated.
Another e-mail, sent in October 2008 by Kanjorski Chief of Staff Karen Feather while she was on leave to work on the campaign, used her official e-mail account to apparently schedule a campaign event with a staffer in Kanjorski's Wilkes-Barre district office. Feather asked another staffer if the "quick event" was worth the effort to schedule.
Staffers are allowed to coordinate the business and political schedules of Congress members but can't use congressional e-mail for election activities, under House franking rules.
Mitchell noted just a handful of e-mails were mailed to the media out of thousands of messages from the 2008 campaign.
"We are vigilant about keeping congressional and campaign activity separated," Mitchell wrote. "They should be viewed at face value and taken for what they're worth: much ado about nothing."
Kanjorski defeated Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta in the 2008 general election for the 11th District seat, and the two face each other again this November.
The Kanjorski campaign's actions show complete disregard for taxpayers, said Barletta spokesman Vince Galko. He said the blurring of legislative and campaign activities is similar to the "bonusgate" prosecutions of state legislators by Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett.
"If he was a state lawmaker, the state Attorney General's Office would probably be investigating him, if not indicting him," Galko said.
Of course, the infamous "We've done nothing wrong and we promise not to do it again" routine.
So he admits his previous policy was non-compliant?