Ethics Group Questions Hank Johnson’s Ossoff Help

Conservative nonprofit says Georgia Democrat used House website to help 6th District campaign

Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson is being accused of using his House website to help the campaign of John Ossoff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A conservative-leaning ethics foundation filed an inquiry Monday with the Office of Congressional Ethics, asking it to look into Rep. Hank Johnson’s use of official resources to help Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff’s campaign.

Johnson, himself a Georgia Democrat, posted links to stories about Ossoff and problems with people finding where to vote in that state’s 6th District on his official House website, violating the chamber’s ethics code, according to a copy of the inquiry lodged by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, also known as FACT.

The links were later removed from Johnson’s House website, FACT said in a statement after being contacted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The nonprofit organization, run by former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, Matthew G. Whitaker, frequently asks the OCE to look into matters involving federal lawmakers.

“Johnson has simply disregarded this rule and is blatantly using his official website for partisan purposes and campaign-related activity,” wrote Whitaker, a Republican, in a letter to the OCE. “Johnson has breached a basic rule that ensures the public’s confidence that our House members are working for the citizens and not for their own personal political gain, but he has misused taxpayer-funded resources.”

The OCE does not confirm or deny receipt of inquiries from any individual or organization, nor does it confirm or deny that a probe is taking place.

Ossoff, who is running to replace former Republican Rep. Tom Price after he was tapped for Health and Human Services secretary, advanced to a June runoff after finishing first in the special election primary last week.

He will face Republican Karen Handel in the traditionally red district in what is being considered an early test of how House Democrats will do in 2018 under a Donald Trump presidency.

Correction 8:10 p.m. | Matthew G. Whitaker is a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Iowa. He is not a former Iowa attorney general. 

Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter.

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