Newspaper article Roll Call

Sanders Presser May Flout Ethics Rules (Updated)

Newspaper article Roll Call

Sanders Presser May Flout Ethics Rules (Updated)

Article excerpt

Updated 10:55 a.m. | Running for president is hard. But it's even harder to do while balancing the ethics rules of your day job on Capitol Hill.

It's a lesson Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., is learning the day after he told The Associated Press he's running for president in 2016.

Sanders was scheduled to hold a news conference Thursday at noon at the Senate Radio/TV gallery where he will "discuss his agenda for America." By holding the event the day after he made his presidential hopes official, the vast majority of the questions at the event are likely to be about his campaign and national platform. And that walks a fine line of breaking Senate ethics rules, which prohibit campaigning of any kind in the Capitol complex.

But about two hours before the presser was scheduled to start, Sanders' office announced a location change. The event would be held outside the Capitol, in the Senate Swamp.

From a rules standpoint, the move doesn't change the murkiness surrounding Sanders' expected announcement.

The Senate Swamp can only be reserved by members of Congress -- not public demonstrators, or candidates. Jason Botelho, media relations coordinator for the Senate Radio-TV Gallery said other locations on the Capitol grounds could be booked through the Capitol Police.

"Official resources (Senate space, equipment, staff time, and supplies) should not be used to assist campaign organizations," read the rules posted to the Senate Ethics Committee's website.

Sanders' office said the news conference is not his official presidential announcement, and denied there is anything ethically murky about the event.

"Some things you can do and certain things you can't do and we've been told we can do this," Sanders press aide Jeff Frank told CQ Roll Call.

But one Senate aide said it's a "well-known tenet" these things shouldn't mix.

"[M]oney must be used for the purpose for which it is appropriated. ... Everything up here is paid for by official funds so all things we do must be official," the aide said. …

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