Allentown Morning Call: Pa. Dems File Ethics Complaint Over Barletta TV Interview

* The Pennsylvania Democratic Party has filed an ethics complaint against U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta over a television interview this week in which the Republican congressman stood in his district office answering questions about the Senate bid he’s expected to announce soon.

* The complaint filed Wednesday cites the House Ethics Manual’s instruction that taxpayer-funded district offices “may not be used for the conduct of campaign or political activities.” A related provision states that congressional press secretaries can answer “occasional” political questions but should not give interviews “substantially devoted” to campaign matters, the filing states. 

* “Rep. Barletta’s unapologetic discussion of his Senate run in significant detail while in his congressional office is a direct affront to House Rules,” Steele said in the ethics complaint, calling on the office to open an investigation.


Allentown Morning Call: Pa. Dems file ethics complaint over Barletta TV interview

By Laura Olson

The Pennsylvania Democratic Party has filed an ethics complaint against U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta over a television interview this week in which the Republican congressman stood in his district office answering questions about the Senate bid he’s expected to announce soon.

The complaint, filed with the U.S. House’s Office of Congressional Ethics and signed by Democratic Party spokesman Max Steele, alleges that the interview’s location violates House rules and potentially federal law.

Barletta’s political consultant, John Brabender, responded that the comment came during an interview set up to discuss health care policy. He described the complaint as revealing anxiety among Democrats over someone who has not yet joined the Senate race.

The ethics filing comes days after an Associated Press report that Barletta, a Hazleton lawmaker whose 11th District includes parts of Carbon County, has told Pennsylvania GOP officials that he will launch a Senate bid against Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey.

In Monday’s interview with Wilkes-Barre’s WBRE-TV, the U.S. House of Representatives’ seal can be seen on the wall behind Barletta as he tells the reporter he’s “very seriously” considering a Senate run and will be announcing his decision “within a couple of weeks.”

The complaint filed Wednesday cites the House Ethics Manual’s instruction that taxpayer-funded district offices “may not be used for the conduct of campaign or political activities.” A related provision states that congressional press secretaries can answer “occasional” political questions but should not give interviews “substantially devoted” to campaign matters, the filing states.

It also describes Barletta’s position standing near the congressional seal as improper.

“Rep. Barletta’s unapologetic discussion of his Senate run in significant detail while in his congressional office is a direct affront to House Rules,” Steele said in the ethics complaint, calling on the office to open an investigation.

Brabender replied that Barletta’s action were “by the book,” saying it is in line with policies for elected officials to field incidental political questions during legislative interviews.

“All this does is show that Bob Casey is remarkably nervous about Lou Barletta being a potential opponent,” Brabender added.

If he jumps in the Senate race, Barletta would join a broad but low-profile field of GOP contenders who already have stepped up to take on Casey, including Montgomery County real estate investor Jeffrey Bartos, former energy-sector executive Paul Addis, and two state representatives from western Pennsylvania.

Barletta — an early support of President Donald Trump — says he’s been encouraged by the president to run for Senate in Pennsylvania, one of 10 states carried by Trump last year where Senate Democrats will be defending seats in 2018.

Read the article here.