The intractable Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) has managed to get herself into serious trouble by breaking one too many rules. Dozens of activist organizations have filed a formal complaint with the Ethics Committee. Not only that, these groups have called for an investigation into the wayward senator. The reason was that Sinema allegedly forced her staff to perform personal tasks for her, which is forbidden.
The Arizona senator had a 37-page staff guideline, according to The Daily Beast, which included:
‘Always have a “room temperature” bottle of water on hand for her at all times. Make sure you get her groceries. And book her a weekly, hour-long massage.’
The activist groups sent a letter to the Senate Ethics Committee Chair Chris Coons (D-DE) and committee chair Senator James Lankford (R-OK), according to The Hill:
‘It has been reported — and is apparently substantiated by both written evidence and personal testimony — that the senator has enlisted staff to conduct a wide variety of activities unrelated to their job responsibilities.’
The groups wrote that these actions by the Arizona senator were “unambiguous violations:”
‘The activities that the senator has allegedly required of staff appear to be unambiguous violations of the Senate Ethics Committee guidelines that interpret the rules adopted by the Senate.’
Lankford noted a request does not necessarily mean an investigation will follow:
‘Anybody can file complaints,No one outside a small circle will know when or if the committee reviews the matter. We work very quietly, We don’t talk about cases at all.’
Executive Director of Vets Forward helps a group that helps veterans get the vote out, said that top military officers were facing punitive action for using staff in the same way as Sinema:
‘In 2018, the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy faced allegations of similar violations, resulting in his sudden retirement amid ongoing investigation of a toxic work environment. Sinema’s oath says that she’ll well and faithfully discharge the office of U.S. senator. These reports in the press seem like a clear violation of her oath and the ethics of U.S. Senate that warrant a formal investigation.’The document was not provided to Sinema’s office or The Hill for verification.
Congressional Ethics Expert at the watchdog Public Citizen Craig Holman said that should the charges pan out that would mean Senate rule violations:
‘If those are actual policies that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema introduced on her staff that would violate the rule against using official resources and staff for personal purposes. Now Sen. Sinema has denied she did any of that. It certainly deserves an investigation. The Ethics Committee could subpoena and ask her. The Ethics Committee has a long history of burying these types of complaints.’
The groups claimed the senator could have violated Senate Ethics guidelines and requested the Ethics Committee Chair evaluate the information surrounding the senator’s actions. Coons and Lankford indicated:
‘Your committee’s guideline clearly states that ‘Senate staff are compensated for the purpose of assisting senators in their official legislative and representational duties, and not for the purpose of performing personal or other non-official activities for themselves or on behalf of others. The Senate ethics manual recommends staffers keep time logs of their congressional duties if they also engage in campaign activity to avoid attacks or the perception of impropriety. We urge the committee to seek these records and investigate whether Sen. Sinema is directing staffers to perform political tasks while on Senate duty,.’
Watch this space.
a Christie is a political journalist for the liberal online newspaper The Bipartisan Report. Find her here on Facebook. Or at Three White Lions, her book written in her own unique style with a twist of humor on Amazon Kindle Vella and the Gloria Christie Three White Lions podcast on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, etc. Christie’s Mueller Report Adventures In Bite-Sizes a real-life compelling spy mystery (in progress).