[New GOP House Majority Leader Roy] Blunt’s ethics issues stem from his abuse of his position for the benefit of his family, including providing legislative assistance to his wife and son and using his clout to solicit contributions for another son’s campaign. Details of Rep. Blunt’s egregious activities can be found at www.beyonddelay.org.
“Rep. Blunt’s appointment is a case of ‘new boss, same as the old boss.’ While Rep. Blunt may be new to the job, he has long followed Rep. DeLay’s pattern of ignoring campaign finance laws and ethics rules,” Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today. “Rep. Blunt’s favors for Phillip Morris and United Parcel Service, at a time when both companies were clients of his family members, and his funneling of campaign contributions to his son Matt’s campaign for Governor begs the question ‘with such an ethically-challenged record, is Rep. Blunt an appropriate choice for House Majority Leader’?”
Rep. Blunt also contributed the largest individual donation, $20,000, to Rep. DeLay’s Legal Defense Fund.
Additionally, according to the Associated Press, Rep. Roy Blunt’s Political Action Committee (PAC), Rely on Your Beliefs Fund, has paid roughly $88,000 in fees since 2003 to J.W. Ellis Co., a consulting firm run by Jim Ellis. Mr. Ellis, a long time ally of Rep. DeLay, has been indicted along with Rep. DeLay for conspiracy to violate Texas campaign finance laws. It is unclear what services Mr. Ellis performed for Rep. Blunt, who listed Mr. Ellis as a “consultant.”
Rep. Roy Blunts’ Record:
Legislative Assistance to Family Members
Legislative Assistance for Philip Morris
In 2003, Rep. Blunt divorced his wife of 31 years to marry Philip Morris (now Altria) lobbyist Abigail Perlman. Before it was known publicly that Rep. Blunt and Ms. Perlman were dating – and only hours after Rep. Blunt assumed the role of Majority Whip – he tried to secretly insert a provision into Homeland Security legislation that would have benefited Philip Morris, at the expense of competitors.
In addition, Rep. Blunt’s son Andrew lobbies on behalf of Philip Morris, a major client he picked up only four years out of law school. Notably, Altria is Rep. Blunt’s largest campaign contributor, having donated more than $270,000 to political committees tied to him.
Legislative Assistance for United Parcel Service, Inc. and FedEx Corp.
In 2003, Rep. Blunt helped his lobbyist son Andrew by inserting a provision into the $79 billion emergency appropriation for the war in Iraq to benefit U.S. shippers like United Parcel Service, Inc. and FedEx Corp. The provision required that military cargo be carried only by companies with no more than 25% foreign ownership. UPS and FedEx were seeking to block the expansion of a foreign-owned rival’s U.S. operations. Andrew Blunt lobbies on behalf of UPS in Missouri, and UPS and FedEx have contributed at least $58,000 to Rep. Blunt since 2001.
Members of the House are prohibited from “taking any official actions for the prospect of personal gain for themselves or anyone else.” 5 CFR §2635.702(a). By pushing for legislation benefitting Philip Morris and UPS, and, as a consequence, his then-girlfriend and his son, Rep. Blunt may have violated this provision.
Federal law also prohibits public officials from directly or indirectly demanding, seeking, receiving, accepting or agreeing to receive or accept anything of value in return for being influenced in the performance of an official act. If Rep. Blunt accepted campaign contributions from Philip Morris, FedEx or UPS in exchange for legislative assistance, he may have violated federal bribery laws.
Matt Blunt’s Political Campaigns
Family connections have also helped Rep. Blunt’s son, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, who received campaign contributions from nearly three dozen influential Missouri lobbyists and lawyers when he ran for governor in 2004, over half of whom had provided financial support to his father.
In 2000, when Matt Blunt was running for Secretary of State, Rep. Blunt was involved in an apparent scheme to funnel money through a local party committee into Matt Blunt’s campaign committee. Committees tied to Rep. Blunt contributed $90,000 to the 7th District Congressional Republican Committee which, in turn, contributed $76,000 to Matt Blunt’s campaign committee. In addition, Altria – the company for which Blunt’s wife is the top lobbyist – made a $24,000 contribution to Matt Blunt’s campaign, and a $100,000 contribution to the 7th District Congressional Republican Committee.
Moreover, Rule 23 of the House Ethics Manual requires all members of the House to conduct themselves “at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House.”
Legislative Assistance for Jack Abramoff’s Client
Rep. Blunt and his staff have close connections to uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is the subject of criminal and congressional probes. In June 2003, Mr. Abramoff persuaded then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay to organize a letter, co-signed by Speaker Hastert, then-Whip Roy Blunt, and Deputy Whip Eric Cantor, that endorsed a view of gambling law benefitting Mr. Abramoff’s tribal client, the Louisiana Coushatta, by blocking gambling competition by another tribe. Mr. Abramoff has donated $8,500 to Rep. Blunt’s leadership PAC, Rely on Your Beliefs.
If, as it appears, Rep. Blunt was accepting campaign contributions from Mr. Abramoff in exchange for using his official position so support a view of gambling law that would benefit Mr. Abramoff’s client, he would be in violation of the law.
Trip to Korea
Rep. Blunt attended a luncheon in Seoul in January 2002, that was paid for by the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council (KORUSEC), a registered foreign agent. House Rules provide that a Member, officer or employee may not accept travel expenses from a foreign agent.