A federal ethics watchdog group called on the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to “immediately investigate” vulnerable Nevada Democrat Rep. Dina Titus’s “abuse” of House proxy voting rules by claiming she was unable to vote in person due to the “ongoing” pandemic, despite attending in-person campaign events.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) called for the investigation into Titus for voting by proxy 114 times as of August 18 while repeatedly posting pictures of herself on Twitter attending political events for her congressional reelection campaign.
The watchdog explained that Titus filed a letter with the House clerk stating she was “unable to physically attend proceedings in the House Chamber due to the ongoing public health emergency” and assigned her ability to vote to a different member. However, in multiple such instances, Titus contradicted her statements by campaigning for reelection or attending political events.
The complaint detailed some of the times Titus attended in-person campaign or political events while “unable to physically attend proceedings”:
On January 12, Titus voted by proxy, but her campaign paid for a meal at the National Democratic Club on the same day, according to her Federal Election Commission filings. The National Democratic Club is only a few short blocks away from the House Chamber, where she would have voted.
In Congress, I have made it a top priority to create good-paying union jobs #OnlyInDistrict1, promote apprenticeship opportunities, and protect the right to organize. Thanks for having me today @Teamsters & BMWED! You make railroads roll. pic.twitter.com/J9T0K9kSdU
— Dina Titus (@repdinatitus) June 13, 2022
— Dina Titus (@repdinatitus) June 15, 2022
On August 12, Titus again voted by proxy and on the same day posted pictures on social media showing she attended an in-person event, which FACT identified as a campaign event, and met with residents:
I met with residents at Santa Barbara Palms to talk about issues impacting our seniors, especially Medicare and Social Security. I’m committed to protecting these programs now and for decades to come. pic.twitter.com/o1REqrMXJA
— Dina Titus (@repdinatitus) August 12, 2022
The complaint explained the lawmakers’ ability to proxy vote:
On May 15, 2020, the ability to vote by proxy was authorized at any time after the Speaker of the House was notified by the Sergeant-at-Arms that a “public health emergency due to a novel coronavirus is in effect.” Thus, the purpose for the use of a proxy vote must be due to the “public health emergency” and the procedure for proxy voting was not authorized for any other purpose.
Additionally, the complaint noted that House ethics rules require lawmakers to “conduct themselves at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House,” which is a “comprehensive provision” that is applicable to any action taken in the lawmaker’s official capacity.
Furthermore, it mentions that lawmakers should adhere to all House ethics rules, which would include regulations adopted “to ensure Congress can continue legislation during Covid-19,” allowing members to vote by proxy “because of a public health emergency due to a novel Coronavirus.”
The Executive Director of FACT, Kendra Arnold, said in a statement:
The ability to vote by proxy was put in place so the House could continue conducting necessary business during the public health emergency and for no other reason. This is evidenced by the fact that in order to vote by proxy, a Member must file a statement with the House Clerk declaring the reason for the proxy vote is related to the pandemic, and, if that is not the case, the Member is making a false statement to the House Clerk. We encourage the Office of Congressional Ethics to immediately investigate whether Representative Titus violated these House rules and, if so, impose the proper penalties.
A full copy of FACT’s complaint against Landsman can be found here.