At a Glance

House Ethics Manual

By Christopher Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 17, 2008; 4:49 PM

Congressional ethics experts say any inquiry into Rangel's fundraising is likely to focus on whether he violated the section titled "Solicitation of Funds From or on Behalf of Outside Organizations." The manual states:

  • "No official resources may be used. Such official resources include House staff while working on official time, telephones, office equipment and supplies, and official mailing lists.
  • No official endorsement by the House of Representatives may be implied. Thus, no letterhead or envelope used in a solicitation may bear the words Congress of the United States, House of Representatives, or Official Business, nor may the letterhead or envelope bear the Seal of the United States, the Congress, or the House. It is permissible for Members to identify themselves as a Member of Congress, Congressman, Congresswoman, Representative, or by using their leadership title.
  • No direct personal benefits may result to the soliciting official."

-- House Ethics Manual, Pg. 348

Experts also say that the ethics committee would likely also consider a section of the manual titled "The Spirit and Letter of the Rules." The section advises lawmakers to adhere to both the spirit and the letter of the rules of the House. It says:

"The practical effect of Clause 2 of the Code has been to provide a device for construing other provisions of the Code and House rules. It has been interpreted to mean that Members, officers, and employees may not do indirectly what they would be barred from doing directly. Individuals should thus read House rules broadly. The Select Committee on Ethics of the 95th Congress cited this provision to show that a narrow technical reading of a House rule should not overcome its 'spirit' and the intent of the House in adopting that and other rules of conduct."

-- House Ethics Manual, Pg. 16

Read the full report here.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company