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House Ethics panel upholds $5,000 metal detector fine against GOP lawmaker

The House Ethics Committee on Monday upheld a $5,000 fine levied against Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.) for failing to complete a security screening before entering the House chamber.

Smucker is the third House Republican whose appeal against paying the fine has been rejected by the House Ethics Committee.

The two other Republicans — Reps. Louie Gohmert (Texas) and Andrew Clyde (Ga.) — filed a lawsuit earlier this month challenging the constitutionality of using fines to enforce compliance with the metal detectors installed outside of the House chamber after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

In their lawsuit filed in a D.C. federal court, Gohmert and Clyde argued that the fines amount to “a means of harassing democratically-elected representatives who are members of the opposition party in the House of Representatives.”

The House Ethics Committee last month agreed to drop the metal detector fines issued against House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). A bipartisan majority of the evenly split panel — which has five Democrats and five Republicans — must agree for an appeal to succeed.

Another case, involving a fine issued to Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), is still pending.

According to the Capitol Police report filed with the fine notification issued to Smucker, the Pennsylvania Republican entered the House chamber on May 19 without being screened despite police officers’ attempts to get his attention.

The officers were eventually able to inform Smucker that he needed to go through the magnetometer. Smucker then complied with a screening after he had already voted on the House floor.

The fines are deducted from lawmakers’ official salaries. House members are expressly prohibited from paying them with funds from their campaign or congressional office budgets.

House Democrats voted to establish the fines earlier this year because numerous Republicans evaded the metal detectors in defiance of the Capitol Police officers instituting the new screenings after Jan. 6. Democrats’ fears about Republicans possibly carrying weapons were confirmed after Capitol Police officers found a concealed gun on Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) in January while he underwent a metal detector screening outside the House chamber.

Democrats also imposed fines earlier this year to enforce rules requiring everyone to wear masks on the House floor after some Republicans refused to comply. 

The mask requirement is no longer being enforced after the Capitol physician gave the green light earlier this month for people fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to forgo masks in the House chamber.

The House Ethics Committee nevertheless upheld $500 fines last week against three Republicans who refused to wear masks in the days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in May that fully vaccinated people didn’t need to wear facial coverings in most settings.

Tags Andy Harris fines Hal Rogers jan. 6 Lloyd Smucker Louie Gohmert metal detectors Virginia Foxx

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