By Patrick OConnor - 09/20/06 12:00 AM EDT
Seizing on press reports about a meeting last month between Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry (N.C.) has asked the South Carolina Democrat to appear before the ethics committee to explain details of their conversation.
McHenry, a freshman lawmaker who has quickly established his reputation as a partisan brawler, sent Clyburn a letter yesterday accusing the third-ranking Democrat of an ethics violation for discussing a funding issue with Dean in a congressional office building.
Clyburn reportedly asked the DNC chairman to contribute more money to Democratic candidates during a meeting in Clyburn’s Capitol hideaway last month.
“[House buildings, rooms and offices] may not be used for the conduct of campaign or political activities,” according to a passage from the Campaign Booklet produced by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct that McHenry included in his letter.
“House rooms and offices are not to be used for events that are campaign or political in nature, such as a meeting on campaign strategy,” according to a second passage from the same manual that is also included in the letter.
“Given this blatant violation of House rules, I am writing to ask when you will submit yourself before the House Ethics Committee,” McHenry wrote.
Clyburn spokeswoman Kristie Greco disputed the account as it was reported and said Dean merely stopped by to pay his respects to the Democratic Caucus chairman, who also is a prominent member of Congressional Black Caucus, adding that her boss and Dean have discussed fundraising strategy on numerous occasions during their shared time in Washington.
“It’s a poor attempt at a partisan attack,” Greco said, adding that the letter is all the more ironic because McHenry voted, at the beginning of the 109th Congress, in favor of changing the Republicans’ internal rules to allow indicted leaders to maintain their posts.
McHenry’s letter itself was full of partisan vitriol. For example, the outspoken Republican mentions Clyburn’s role on the Democrats “Clean House Task Force” and asks, rhetorically, “Your ‘culture of corruption’ message is hitting a little too close to home, right?’”