ProgressMass Files Ethics Complaint Against Senator Scott Brown for Apparent Violation of Senate Gift Rules
For Immediate Release: July 5, 2012
Contact: Mathew Helman, Communications Director
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Cell: 617-821-8004
BOSTON - This morning, Michael Fogelberg, Executive Director of ProgressMass, submitted a complaint to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics requesting an investigation into the reported acceptance of a gift by Senator Scott Brown that appears to violate the Senate's ethics rules.
Senator Brown was able to enjoy the Boston Red Sox home opener at Fenway Park courtesy of "super-expensive seats behind home plate" that were reported to be a gift from a campaign donor. However, the value of the gift exceeds the limit permissible under Senate rules.
"Republican Scott Brown has a record of playing fast and loose with the rules," noted Michael Fogelberg, Executive Director for ProgressMass. "Senator Brown has used his position to loosen the rules for his supporters on Wall Street, and now it appears he has ignored the rules regarding the ethical conduct of U.S. Senators. Senator Brown must live up to his responsibility to the people of Massachusetts to follow the rules."
"Republican Scott Brown has a responsibility to come clean with the people of Massachusetts," said Mathew Helman, Communications Director for ProgressMass. "Senator Brown has been working overtime to re-write his record on Wall Street and on equal pay for women in the workplace. He's even tried to Etch-A-Sketch over his effort to move the Red Sox out of Fenway Park. He should at least be transparent about whether or not his 'super-expensive seats' at Fenway comport with the Senate's ethics rules."
Earlier this year, an ethics complaint was filed against Senator Brown for using taxpayer-funded Senate staff and resources for political campaign purposes. (Springfield Republican, "Mass. Dems file ethics complaint...," 5/9/12) Additionally, earlier this year, Senator Brown received criticism from taxpayer watchdogs for using taxpayer-funded mail "for electioneering purposes." (Boston Herald, "Scott Brown's honor troll," 3/28/12)
The full text of ProgressMass' letter to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics is below:
July 5, 2012
Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairman
Senator Johnny Isakson, Vice Chairman
U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics
220 Hart Building
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
RE: Complaint Regarding U.S. Senator Scott Brown's Acceptance of Expensive Gifts.
Dear Chairman Boxer and Vice Chairman Isakson:
This letter constitutes a complaint against U.S. Senator Scott Brown for an apparent violation of U.S. Senate ethics gift rule.
On Tuesday, April 24, 2012, Boston Herald columnist Margery Eagan reported, in her column entitled "When did Fenway become a political battleground?", that Senator Brown "spent part of Opening Day in super-expensive seats behind home plate." The tickets for those seats reportedly belong to Dennis Drinkwater, president of Giant Glass Co., Inc.
Individual tickets for a typical Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park immediately "behind home plate" have a face value of well over the allowed $50 limit. Tickets for special occasion games, such as Opening Day, have a value of substantially more, with an "average ticket price" for the game in question noted at $180 in one reliable media report from the New England Sports Network. Further, it is unclear if this gift included only one ticket for Senator Scott Brown or two tickets for both Brown and his wife, who was present with him on April 13, 2012.
Please consider this information against Senate Rule 35.1(a) regarding the acceptance of gifts by a Member of the U.S. Senate, which reads:
1. (a)(1) No Member, officer, or employee of the Senate shall knowingly accept a gift except as provided in this rule.
(2)(A) A Member, officer, or employee may accept a gift (other than cash or cash equivalent) which the Member, officer, or employee reasonably and in good faith believes to have a value of less than $50, and a cumulative value from one source during a calendar year of less than $100. No gift with a value below $10 shall count toward the $100 annual limit.
Clearly, the value of one such Opening Day Red Sox ticket had a value of over $50, the limit explicitly outlined in the Senate Rule (and ostensibly a value over $180, the average ticket price for the event). If the gift in question included two tickets (tickets for both Senator Scott Brown and his wife), obviously the value of the gift would be doubled.
As such, I respectfully request that the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics immediately begin an investigation regarding Senator Scott Brown's acceptance of this gift.
For our government to function effectively, the people must maintain faith in our elected representatives to act solely in the public interest, free from influences that might taint our representatives' focus on the public interest. That is why the U.S. Senate maintains clear and strict rules regarding the reporting and acceptance of gifts by Members. Senator Scott Brown's reported acceptance of the gift in question appears to have violated those Senate Rules.
With the opinion of the U.S. Congress at record lows among the American people, bodies like the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics should be all the more vigilant of possible ethical violations by Members. I appreciate your consideration of and diligence in this matter.
30 Winter Street
Boston, MA 02108