Ethics panel upholds metal detector fines totaling $15K against Rep. Clyde
The House Ethics Committee said Monday that it is upholding two fines worth a total of up to $15,000 against Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) for failing to comply with security screenings to enter the House chamber.
Clyde was issued his first fine on Feb. 4 and a second four days later. Under the rules House Democrats adopted just two days before Clyde received his first fine, lawmakers face a fine of $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for the second.
In his appeal to the House Ethics Committee, Clyde did not deny that he had evaded the metal detectors stationed outside the House chamber as a security measure established in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Instead, he maintained that the fines are unconstitutional — arguing in part that it violates the 27th Amendment that prohibits any law that changes lawmakers’ salaries before their next terms in office — and have been selectively enforced.
Clyde further said Monday that he plans to challenge the fines in federal court.
“This now provides the legal standing which I needed to challenge this unconstitutional resolution,” Clyde said in a statement. “I will take my case to federal court where I am confident justice will be served.”
To date, the House Ethics Committee has upheld fines issued against lawmakers for bypassing the security screenings.
Late last month, the Ethics Committee upheld a $5,000 fine against Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas). To date, Gohmert and Clyde are the only lawmakers known to have been issued metal detector fines.
Gohmert argued in his appeal that he had complied with a metal detector screening upon first entering the House chamber, but was unaware that he needed to be screened again after leaving briefly to use the restroom.
Lawmakers must pay the fines directly from their official salaries and cannot use campaign or office budget funds. They can appeal the fines to the House Ethics Committee, which has 30 days to issue a decision. If a majority doesn’t agree to an appeal, then the fine is upheld.
The panel is evenly split between five Democrats and five Republicans.
Democrats established the fines after several Republicans ignored the metal detectors installed shortly after Jan. 6, including some who pushed past Capitol Police officers to evade the metal detectors.
One of the magnetometers detected a concealed gun on Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) in January, confirming Democrats’ fears that some Republicans are carrying guns in violation of longstanding rules prohibiting firearms in the House and Senate chambers.
Members of Congress are granted a narrow exemption to keep guns in their offices, but otherwise are prohibited from carrying them around the Capitol campus like all other visitors and staff. They can transport firearms around the complex, but they must be unloaded and security wrapped.
Lawmakers have also long been exempt from having to go through any metal detectors in the Capitol complex, until the machines were installed outside the House chamber after Jan. 6.
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