A leftist watchdog group is targeting firebrand conservative Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), alleging Gohmert used campaign funds improperly when he gave a series of speeches in England. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) , filed an ethics complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics on Thursday. CREW claimed Gohmert charged his campaign more than $6,000 when he spoke in London, Cambridge and Oxford in November and December 2014, adding that Gohmert incurred $5,451 for a London hotel and a taxi ride that cost over $200.
Gohmert’s spokeswoman Kimberly Willingham responded to the charges by asserting, “Though most of his talks were political in nature, some might have been arguably official, but he chose the safer route of making it a political trip, and so official funds were not used. House Ethics prohibits the use of official funds being used for events that are political in nature; therefore, I am not entirely sure what the fuss is about.”
CREW interim Executive Director Anne Weismann said that the speeches shouldn’t be considered eligible campaign expenses because Gohmert’s audience was not part of his voting constituency. She barked, “Rep. Gohmert’s legendary tirades may put him in high demand for public speaking engagements, but that doesn’t give him license to bill a luxury London vacation to his campaign.”
Weismann has a history of intolerance for conservatives, especially the Christian right; in 2008, as chief counsel for CREW, she helped lead the charge against Christian conservatives who visited the Bush White House. CREW filed a request using the Freedom of information Act to force the Secret Service to release its records of prominent conservative Christian leaders’ visits to the White House. Weismann clearly showed her bias, stating, “These are people that are publicly identifiable as leaders of what I would call the Christian right, and we are interested to know the extent of influence that they may have had on the president and his policies.”
CREW’s reputation as a leftist attack dog is well-known. According to the Center For Organizational Research and Education, “An analysis of CREW’s past activities demonstrates that it disproportionately targets conservatives by a ratio of more than 8-to-1. At the same time, the corresponding federal oversight agencies responsible for investigating CREW’s complaints indicates that, historically, Democrats have been investigated far more often for ethics violations.”
Gohmert said he was surprised at the charge leveled against him, but responded jocularly, “So again, it was a political trip, and a lot of senators and representatives do that. Of course the president, when he was running, he liked to go over there.”