Rep. Mo Brooks can now stop telling Alabama voters he “never” received an ethics complaint.
On Monday, an Alabama man filed a federal grievance against the congressman and Senate candidate accusing him of improperly using congressional resources both in a campaign ad and on social media.
NTKnetwork.com reports insurance agent Joe Fuller filed the complaint against Brooks, locked in a heated race for the second-place spot in the primary Tuesday for Alabama’s Senate seat.
In a recent campaign ad — “To the president” — Brooks chides President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for supporting his Republican opponent, sitting Sen. Luther Strange.
Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC linked to McConnell, has solidly backed Strange with millions of dollars in advertising.
Brooks, Strange and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore have been battling for the top spots in the 9-person primary to decide who could serve the rest of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Senate term.
A Cygnal/L2 poll released Thursday suggests the race will go to a runoff Sept. 26 between two top vote-getters, since it is unlikely one will take a majority of the vote. In the survey of likely Republican voters, Moore leads the field with 31 percent compared to Strange‘s 23 percent. Brooks, the only other candidate with a chance of making a runoff, follows with 18 percent.
Last week, Trump formally endorsed Strange on Twitter, which led to a quick condemnation from Brooks, who had been pushing himself as a pro-Trump candidate.
Both in the ad and on Twitter, Brooks asked Trump to reconsider his endorsement.
“McConnell and Strange are weak, but together, we can be strong,” Brooks said in the spot, before asking: “Mr. President, isn’t it time we tell McConnell and Strange: ‘You’re fired?’” It was a nod to Trump’s famous catchphrase used in “The Apprentice.”
As Fuller’s complaint noted, the ad shows Brooks wearing his congressional pin — an apparent violation of House ethics rules.
As the House Ethics Manual states: “Official resources of the House must, as a general rule, be used for the performance of official business of the House, and hence those resources may not be used for campaign or political purposes.”
Fuller’s complaint also alleges that Brooks violated 18 U.S. Code § 713, prohibiting a Member of Congress photo from being used on a social media campaign page. Brooks official photo is on his Facebook page.
According to 18 U.S. Code § 713:
“Whoever knowingly displays any printed or other likenesses of the great seal of the United States … or the seal of the United States House of Representatives, or the seal of the United States Congress … for the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States or by any department, agency or instrumentality thereof, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.”
Brooks continues to insist he has never received a single ethics complaint — an interesting claim considering several questionable ethical lapses as Madison County district attorney in the 1990s.
Nevertheless, in a campaign appearance Monday with the Republican Women of Birmingham, Brooks had a slightly different take. The video was streamed on Facebook Live and is also available on Brooks Senate campaign page.
At about nine-and-a-half minutes, the video shows Brooks telling the audience that due to “limited resources,” his wife, Martha, handles complaints, ethical concerns, and federal elections Commission issues for his office.
Brooks’ comment raises a question: Why would he need someone to handle ethics accusations — especially his own wife — if Brooks never gets any complaints in the first place?