Congressional Accountability Project

1322 18th Street NW Suite 360

Washington, DC 20036

(202) 296-2787

fax (202) 833-2406

February 21, 1995

Senator Mitch McConnell


U. S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics

Hart Building Room 220

Washington, DC 20510

RE: Request for Investigation of Senator Phil Gramm for Possible

Violation of Criminal Law.

Dear Chairman McConnell:

We are writing to urge the Senate Ethics Committee to conduct a thorough, public investigation into Senator Phil Gramm's apparent use of his Senate office for campaign purposes. Senator Gramm appears to have admitted to soliciting campaign contributions from his Senate office. If he has used his office for campaign fundraising, Senator Gramm has violated the prohibition against the solicitation of campaign contributions in federal government offices.

A: Senator Gramm Appears to Have Admitted Soliciting Campaign Contributions From His Senate Office In Violation of Federal Law.

John Harwood of the Wall Street Journal wrote on February 17, 1995 that:

The Gramm money machine is a flush example of fund raising for the electoral fast lane....The senator himself figures he spends two hours a day dialing for cash from his Washington home, his car and his mobile phone; he says he can even place calls from his Senate office...."I do it wherever I am," he says. "I can use a credit card....As long as I pay for the calls, I can make calls wherever I want to call."

The implication of this statement is that Senator Gramm solicits campaign contributions from his Congressional office. But Congressional offices are intended for Congressional work, not campaign solicitations. If Senator Gramm has made campaign solicitations from his Congressional office, he is in violation of 18 U.S.C. 607(a):

It shall be unlawful for any person to solicit or receive any contribution within the meaning of section 301(8) of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by any person mentioned in section 603, or in any navy yard, fort, or arsenal. Any person who violates this section shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

B: An Ethics Committee Investigation is Needed to Uncover Other

Possible Violations of Law.

An Ethics Committee investigation is needed to determine who paid for the campaign-related telephone calls from Senator Gramm's Congressional office.

Did Senator Gramm use a campaign credit card to pay for all of his campaign-related calls from his Congressional office, or did he use his Official Expense Allowance to pay for some calls. If calls were paid for by the Senator's Official Expense Allowance, then this would be a misuse of appropriated resources. 31 U.S.C. 1301(a) states that:

Appropriations shall be applied only to the objects for which the appropriations were made except as otherwise provided by law.

Senator Gramm must certify that Official Expense Allowance monies are expended for official Congressional purposes. If Senator Gramm certified that campaign contribution solicitation calls were official expenses, then this would constitute a violation of the False Claims Act. 31 U.S.C. 3729(a) states that:

Any person who-

(1) knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, to an officer or employee of the United States Government...a false or fraudulent claim for payment or approval;

(2) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement to get a false or fraudulent claim paid or approved by the government;


is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000, plus 3 times the amount of damages which the Government sustains because of the act of that person...

C: Conclusion

Congressional offices are for Congressional work. Taxpayers pay for these offices so that their own interests are represented within the legislative branch. When solicitations for campaign contributions occur within the halls of Congress, it creates the appearance that our members of Congress are serving the interests of the powerful and wealthy at the expense of the citizenry. This appearance is highly destructive to the public trust and to the legitimacy and moral authority of the Congress. That is why using federal offices for campaign solicitations is illegal. We call on you to vigorously investigate this appearance of criminal activity within Senator Gramm's office.


Gary Ruskin


Ralph Nader