Florida Dem’s ’embarrassing’ Zoom call during House committee meeting may violate ethics rules, watchdog says

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EXCLUSIVE: Florida Democratic Rep. Val Demings touted her Senate bid at a virtual event while attending a congressional hearing remotely, and a conservative watchdog group says it could violate ethics rules from the room.

Demings attended a House Judiciary Committee meeting remotely on April 5, while concurrently with the proceedings, she joined a zoom on to promote her campaign for the U.S. Senate, according to a complaint from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust obtained by Fox News. Digital.

“Not only was this incident an embarrassing moment for [Demings]and for the House, but a serious violation of the rules also appears to be present,” the complaint sent to the Congressional Ethics Office reads.

Rep.  Val Demings (D-FL)
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Rep. Val Demings (D-FL)
(Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS)

During the committee hearing on the Prevention of Domestic Terrorism Act, Demings used House rules allowing representatives to attend proceedings remotely to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Demings voted on the amendments, but a campaign video shows her apologizing for having to listen to the Judiciary Committee so she could hear when it was her turn to answer the roll call.

“Of course I was so looking forward to being with the Duval Caucus, and here I’m stuck in a markup in the bench, so I apologize for the background noise, but of course I’m also listening to the audience there, so I know when it’s time for me to vote,” Demings says in a recording obtained by FACT.

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Demings is running to unseat Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and April 5 joined the Duval County Democratic Black Caucus to woo Democrats in Jacksonville, Florida, a coalition she will need to win the general election.

Rep.  Val Demings, D-Fla.

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“You all know my opponent in this race, someone who votes against things that are good for Florida,” Demings said of Rubio. “Someone who really doesn’t… Excuse me, I’m waiting for my name to be called. Someone who doesn’t believe in climate change, he says winter, spring, summer and fall. I’m running against someone who likes to pick winners and losers based on their ability to pay to play. Just wait a second. No, no. Alright, I’m sorry, thank you very much. Uh, and also, my opponent doesn’t don’t like showing up for work.”

In a video of the committee meeting, Demings can be heard voting on several amendments remotely.

Demings was far from the only committee member to log on remotely. In fact, Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler, DN.Y., had to repeatedly remind Rep. to “shut up unless he votes.”

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The House has general rules stating that members must “conduct themselves at all times in a manner that credibly reflects the House”, and FACT alleges that Demings’ participation in a political event while attending a proceeding committee official violated rules requiring separation of campaign and congressional business.

“Demings’ dual attendance at the events shows that she chose to attend the committee hearing virtually not for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but to speak at a campaign event. – clearly contrary to the authorized purpose of the rule set forth in House Resolution 965”, which set out the parameters for conducting House business remotely due to the COVID-19 emergency.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expanded proxy voting rules, as well as the ability to participate in congressional hearings remotely, in March. Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker, in consultation with US treating physician Dr. Brian Monahan, wrote that “the public health emergency due to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 remains in effect.”

Demings, the former Orlando police chief, is running for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate and will likely face Rubio in November’s midterm elections.

Demings’ office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.



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