Dear Chairman Deutch and Ranking Member Walorski:
This is my written statement in response to the Complaint filed with the Committee on Ethics (“Committee”) on March 10, 2021, by Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), as requested by the Committee in your letter dated March 18, 2021.
The Complaint makes the baseless claim that I violated House Rule XXIII, clause 1. I swore an oath to uphold and defend the United States Constitution. Our Constitution is the cornerstone of our Republic and I strive every day to uphold my promise. My objections to the counting of Electoral College votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania were based on the Constitution and changes to state law that were not made by the state legislature, not election fraud. Similar objections have been made related to previous elections, including in 2001, 2005, and 2017, all by Democrats. (See examples attached as Exhibit A). I have publicly condemned the violence that occurred on January 6, 2021, and I firmly support the rule of law. I strive to behave at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House of Representatives and that represents the people of Colorado’s Third Congressional District and makes them proud.
The general allegations are that I was involved “in instigating and aiding the violent riot at the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021” and that I “endangered fellow Members’ lives and pursued a disinformation campaign related to the election results that resulted in an armed uprising.” To be clear, I was not involved in instigating and aiding the riots that took place on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol and there is no evidence that would support further investigation of these unjustified, politically motivated claims. As previously mentioned, my objections to the counting of Electoral College votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania were based on the Constitution and changes to state law that were not made by the state legislature, not election fraud.
Multiple Democrat Members have made baseless allegations for political purposes related to this the same subject matter now before this Committee. In each instance, I have clearly demonstrated that actual facts and evidence prove the allegations as false. Congressman Steve Cohen made unfounded allegations similar to the claims set forth in the Complaint and I responded with a letter demonstrating each allegation as false. (Attached as Exhibit B.)
In fact, multiple media outlets have investigated and disproved the same false allegations set forth in the Complaint, including USA Today.
The Complaint does not provide any evidence of a violation of House Rule XXIII, clause 1. Instead, the Complaint alleges that my conservative principles and vocal support of the Second Amendment are somehow the basis for an ethics violation. In instances where the Complaint does provide specific claims, the “evidence” is intentionally misleading or entirely inaccurate. For instance, throughout the Complaint the claim is made that my past statements supporting Second Amendment rights are somehow connected to the deplorable actions of certain individuals storming the U.S. Capitol. While the fact that the Complaint does not provide any evidence of a violation of House Rule XXIII, clause 1, appears dispositive, I will address each specific claim below:
The Complaint alleges that my prior references to “1776” as a historic day granting our country’s independence and liberty are a connection point to the riots that took place on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol. Throughout my adult life, and in my campaign and public service, I have consistently referenced 1776, because I, like most Americans, regard the date our nation was founded with reverence (see examples attached as Exhibit C). It is an expression of my pride for America’s Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and the establishment and endurance of this great country. The Complaint misrepresents my refence to “1776” on January 6th as somehow supporting the illegal acts that took place at the U.S. Capitol when, in fact, the record proves that my reference to “1776” was specifically made in relation to the importance of legal efforts to ensure the validity and integrity of our electoral system. In recent years, Democrats have also made numerous statements about the need for election integrity. (See examples attached as Exhibit D). Therefore, these accusations are completely false and without merit. Furthermore, the accusation is incompatible with my contemporaneous and unambiguous statement denouncing the violence earlier in the day. The Complaint remarkably asserts that federal elected officials should be restricted and punished for referencing the date the Declaration of Independence was adopted.
The Complaint alleges that I “tweeted the location of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.” This statement is patently false and libelous. I never disclosed the location of Speaker Pelosi. While we were in the middle of a chaotic and terrifying situation, I, along with many of my fellow Members, communicated via social media regarding the events taking place and our safety (see examples attached as Exhibit E). I tweeted that we were locked in the House Chambers and that the Speaker left during the lockdown. Media outlets broadcast live on television the exact details of my tweets prior to them being tweeted. I did not share the location of Speaker Pelosi while she was in the Chamber, after she left, or at any other time. The Complaint’s allegation that I shared the location of Speaker Nancy Pelosi is false.
The Complaint alleges that I “encouraged violence in and around the Capitol.” This claim is a complete fabrication, and the Complaint provides no evidence supporting this allegation. The two examples provided have nothing to do with encouraging violence anywhere and have nothing to do with the events of January 6, 2021. This claim seems to rely only on the Complainants’ personal and political belief that a law-abiding citizen exercising her constitutional right to carry a firearm must inherently be encouraging violence. Nevertheless, I will address each irrelevant example provided in the Complaint.
First, I strongly believe that the U.S. Constitution grants unalienable rights to citizens of this country. My tweet from December 2020, “I prefer to speak loudly and carry a Glock,” expresses my belief that I can exercise my First Amendment and Second Amendment rights that are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. This statement, defending explicit provisions found in the U.S. Constitution, cannot possibly be used to support a claim that I was encouraging individuals to illegally enter the U.S. Capitol two months later. In fact, I have made statements about vocally and proudly defending Second Amendment rights long before serving as a Member of Congress. Furthermore, this statement has zero connection to individuals’ illegal entrance of the U.S. Capitol. The Complaint’s claim that a Member of Congress should be restricted from exercising constitutional rights is outrageous.
Second, I never claimed I was going to open carry in Washington, D.C., or break the law. The statement that I “pledged to carry a handgun around the Capitol, despite D.C. laws banning open carry in the city” is false. I am legally permitted to carry my firearm in Washington, D.C., and received my concealed carry license from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department that allows me to conceal carry within the District. Nothing in my video supports or encourages violence. Again, to claim that my communications to constituents and the general public supporting the Second Amendment should be restricted is outrageous. More directly to the issue before this Committee, the Complaint provides zero evidence that my consistent support for Second Amendment rights has any connection to the events that occurred on January 6, 2021.
There is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that I have “maintained close ties to known extremist groups” present on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol. I have condemned all forms of political violence and have repeatedly made clear that those who stormed the U.S. Capitol should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I have never had nor do I have any ties to extremist groups present at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. I am not a member of any of those organizations and do not attend their meetings. Like every candidate across the country, I have posed for thousands of photographs with individuals on the campaign trail. I do not know the background of every individual I take a picture with. My willingness to be in a photo with other people in no way indicates that I know of or in any way endorse each of their beliefs or activities. It is a rather ordinary activity for a political figure, and the attempt to equate a photo op with an affiliation with that individuals’ beliefs is absurd. Does the Complainant suggest that candidates for public office must perform due diligence on each individual requesting a photograph? Even more ridiculous is the claim that a photo of a person standing in front of my business without my knowledge, presence, or permission indicates that I have “close ties” with him. This claim, like the prior claims, provides zero evidence of improper conduct.
Following these specific unfounded allegations, the Complaint further devolves into a political line of attack by recounting the opinions of individuals who oppose me politically, specifically citing 60 Democrat elected officials who signed a letter requesting an investigation (but provided no evidence of wrongdoing) and a former state representative who endorsed my Democrat opponent. The reference to the Republican Members of Congress who “spoke out against me” was in an article related to tweets, as previously addressed. In addition, the allegations in the Complaint against Representative Gaetz were not similar to those in this Complaint, and therefore it does not provide precedent to support an investigation against me.
Finally, the Complaint pronounces that it is critical for the functioning of Congress and our democracy that baseless claims be investigated. In actuality, the real impropriety is having Members abusing this formal ethics investigation process to advance false, politically-motivated attacks without any evidence to support the underlying claims. Specifically, Representative Jayapal, who is the Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has made similar unsubstantiated ethics claims against other Republican Members of Congress. This practice demeans this body and distracts this Committee from carrying out its formal function of investigating actual, substantiated, and non-partisan claims of ethical misconduct.
The Complaint provides no evidence that my conduct violated House Rule XXIII, clause 1, or any other applicable provision of law and I respectfully request that the Complaint be summarily dismissed.
Member of Congress
Cc: Office of Congressional Ethics
Rep. Lauren Boebert stated: "Today, I thoroughly responded to Rep. Jayapal’s baseless Ethics complaint that I violated House Rule XXIII, clause 1. It is wrong to have Members of Congress, like Rep. Jayapal, repeatedly abusing the formal ethics investigation process to advance false, politically motivated attacks without any evidence.
Specifically, Representative Jayapal, who is the Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has made similar unsubstantiated ethics claims against other Republican Members of Congress. This practice demeans the House of Representatives and gets in the way of us getting things done for the American people."
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