A nonprofit watchdog group has filed a complaint with the House Committee on Ethics, requesting an investigation into 13 Republican House members who used the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to skip in-person votes to attend a conservative conference last month.
The Campaign for Accountability in its complaint requested guidance “explaining that members of Congress may not claim that the public health emergency wrought by Covid-19 prevents them from personally voting on the House floor when, in fact, they simply prefer to attend other political events.”
“Submitting such untruthful statements to the Clerk of the House should be considered conduct that does not reflect creditably upon the House,” the group added in its letter.
The complaint comes after more than a dozen of former President Donald Trump’s closest Republican allies in the House skipped votes last month and enlisted their colleagues to vote on their behalf, signing letters saying they couldn’t attend “due to the ongoing public health emergency.”
The members were in Orlando speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual meeting aimed at energizing conservative activists and boosting their own profiles.
The Republican Party, in light of the lawmakers’ use of proxy voting, has had to reevaluate where it stands on the issue. Prior to CPAC, the party had been unified in its opposition to proxy voting, even going as far as filing a lawsuit arguing that remote voting violated the Constitution.
Although most Republicans are still against it, and have called out their colleagues for using it for false reasons, some have suggested that the party should embrace proxy voting to help keep up with an ever-changing schedule and ensure that all of their votes count against the Democrats slim majority.
“The representatives who chose CPAC over voting made it clear they value political opportunism over their roles as members of Congress. The House Ethics Committee must make clear that members who abuse the privilege of proxy voting will be held accountable,” Michelle Kuppersmith, Campaign for Accountability’s executive director, told CNN in a statement.