Carnahan, Clay tangle over ethics complaint filed months ago
The campaign of U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan is dismissing an ethics complaint filed with the House’s Office of Congressional Ethics, which contends that he violated rules by holding at least two official events in the current 1st District, now represented by William Lacy Clay.
The two St. Louis Democrats are competing next Tuesday for their party’s nomination in the new 1st District, which takes in part of Carnahan’s current 3rd District.
Carnahan camp contends that Clay is behind the complaint, an accusation his camp denies.
The complaint notes that House rules require that federal money for official events be spent generally on activities in the candidate’s district, which for Carnahan is the current 3rd District.
But Carnahan’s campaign manager says the two examples used in the complaint – at a business and at the University of Missouri-St. Louis -- have “no substance under the rules.”
The UMSL event would be exempted from the rules because it serves the region and is publicly funded, said Carnahan campaign manager Maurice Henderson.
The second example, the business, was when Carnahan stopped by to give a U.S. flag to the family of the deceased owner, at their request, Henderson said. The flag had been flown briefly atop the U.S. Capitol, a perk that members of Congress often provide to members of the public.
Henderson said Carnahan simply had been fulfilling the family’s request.
The Beacon has obtained a copy of the complaint, filed in late April by a man named Ricky Jamerson, who referred all questions to his lawyer, Ruby Bonner.
But Henderson alleged that Clay was behind the complaint, noting that the congressman had posted a statement about it earlier Thursday on his campaign web site.
In the statement, Clay says, “Russ continues to make baseless accusations against me - while, sadly, he has a pending ethics charge against him in the House of Representatives.”
Clay then continues, “…Unfortunately, Russ used taxpayer money and official House staff to hold a series of events official events in the new district. This violates House rules against using official resources - specifically against campaigning in new redistricted areas…”
Henderson contended that the Clay camp was using the complaint as a way to counter disparaging accusations from Carnahan dealing with Clay’s close ties to the rent-to-own industry. Clay has said there’s nothing wrong with the industry and accuses Carnahan of misrepresentations.
Clay’s camp isn’t saying how it came across the complaint filed months ago. Jamerson’s lawyer, Bonner, said in a telephone interview that she had not talked to either Clay or Carnahan. She also has not been contacted by the House ethics panel, Bonner said.
Bonner declined to offer any details, saying, “I’d just as soon not muddy the waters.”
Bonner retired last year after serving as the city's director of St. Louis’ Civil Rights Enforcement Agency, under St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.