CREW Files Congressional Ethics Complaints on C Street House Residents
Earlier this month, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed complaints with the Senate Ethics Committee and the House Office of Congressional Ethics against members of Congress who reside or have resided at the C Street house that is the home of the so-called "Family". CREW alleges that residents are violating congressional gift rules by paying a lower-than market value rent.
According to CREW, Clergy VOICE, a group of clergy from various religious traditions surveyed the area rental market and "discovered that nearby hotels charge a minimum of $2,400 per month, corporate housing costs a minimum of $4,000 per month and efficiency or one bedroom apartments typically go for at least $1,700 per month," not including meals. The $950 the Congressmen pay to live in the C Street House includes lodging and full housekeeping services, as well as the possibility of meals at an unknown extra cost. The House and Senate gift rules expressly prohibit lodging as a gift, as well as gifts that are given solely because of members' status in the government. Since all of the residents are Congressmen, it is likely that they are offered rent due to their positions.
CREW's complaints name Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Jim DeMint (R-SC), and John Ensign (R-NV), as well as Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA), Heath Shuler (D-NC), Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Zach Wamp (R-TN) as members of Congress who received inappropriate gifts from C Street Center, Inc. World Magazine, which calls the C Street House a "Christian Frat House," reports that Representative Ensign has admitted to an adulterous affair and that last month a lawsuit in Mississippi served notice that former Representative Chip Pickering (R-MS), may have carried on an illicit affair within the C Street House. Representative Stupak announced last week that he will not seek reelection.
In its official complaint (see pdf), CREW says, "Few Americans are lucky enough to have landlords who accept below market rent while also offering housekeeping and meal service. One cannot help but wonder what the congressmen have done for C Street Center Inc. in return for this largesse. This, of course, is the reason for the gift prohibition in the first place."
Media Resources: CREW 4/1/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 4/9/10; World Magazine 8/29/09; Crew 4/1/10