Ethics Complaint Filed Against Louis Gohmert

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The complaint below that Accountable.US filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics today regarding Rep. Louis Gohmert’s treatment of staff and reckless disregard for public health protocols in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Q2 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Omar Ashmawy

Chief Counsel and Staff Director

Office of Congressional Ethics

U.S. House of Representatives

P.O. Box 895

Washington, D.C. 20515

Re: Request for Investigation of Representative Louis Gohmert (R-TX)

Dear Mr. Ashmawy:

We respectfully request that the Office of Congressional Ethics commence an immediate investigation into whether Rep. Louis Gohmert violated House rules through his disregard for public health guidelines and behavior that put his staff, colleagues, and other House staff at risk of contracting novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

After he recently contracted COVID-19, news reports revealed that Rep. Gohmert’s consistent failure to wear a mask resulted in staff across Capitol Hill feeling that they were putting their health in danger by showing up to work. At least one member of Gohmert’s staff appears to have learned of their boss’s COVID-19 status through media reports. In an email to POLITICO, the staffer wrote, “thank you for letting our office know Louie tested positive for coronavirus. When you write your story, can you include the fact that Louie requires full staff to be in the office, including three interns, so that ‘we can be an example to America on how to open up safely.’ When probing the office, you might want to ask how often were people berated for wearing masks.” It is alarming to learn that members of Rep. Gohmert’s 1 staff who expressed concerns about safety protocols were ignored or laughed off.

It is worth noting that Rep. Raul Grijalva recently tested positive for COVID-19 just days after he and Rep. Gohmert participated in a House Natural Resources Committee hearing together.

Public health experts have made it abundantly clear that wearing a mask is essential to curbing the spread of COVID-19. At a time when health care and other essential workers lack the personal protective equipment (PPE) to help keep them safe on the job, Rep. Gohmert has repeatedly opted not to wear a mask out of personal preference — putting his own health, and the health of all those who work for and around him, in danger. And It is troubling to hear that individuals who joined the public service as congressional staff feel they must risk their health and well-being in order to fulfill their charge.

Members of the House of Representatives are required to conduct themselves “at all times in a manner that reflects credibility on the House.” (Rule 23, Clause 1) This ethics standard is considered to 3 be “the most comprehensive provision of the code.” (House Ethics Manual, p. 12) By disregarding 4 public health guidance and purportedly creating a workplace climate that put the health of others in jeopardy, Rep. Gohmert clearly engaged in conduct that does not reflect credibility on the House.

Therefore, we respectfully request that the Committee immediately investigate Rep. Gohmert’s personal conduct and treatment of staff and take appropriate action as necessary.

Respectfully,

Kyle Herrig

President, Accountable.US

1 Jake Sherman et al., “POLITICO Playbook PM: Why the Capitol Needs Testing,” POLITICO, July 29, 2020, https://politi.co/2X7yUvg.

2 “Rep. Raul Grijalva Tests Positive for Covid-19,” POLITICO, accessed August 3, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/08/01/raul-grijalva-tests-positive-covid-19-390111.

3 U.S. House Committee on Standard of Official Conduct, “House Ethics Manual,” 2008, https://ethics.house.gov/sites/ethics.house.gov/files/documents/2008_House_Ethics_Manual.pdf

4 U.S. House Committee on Standard of Official Conduct.

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