A watchdog group in ethics asked the House Office of Congressional Ethics for an investigation into Rep. Charlie Crist (D–FL) for allegedly abusing proxy voting.
The House Clerk’s coronavirus policies allow members of Congress to vote by proxy in cases where they are unable or unable to vote on the House floor because of a “public health emergency.”
Crist, however, has cited the House policy over 100 times as the reason for voting proxy between January and April 7. Crist voted by proxy 18 times in total during this time, and only four times in March.
Crist filed letters to the House Clerk stating that he was “unable to physically attend the proceedings in the House Chamber because of the ongoing public health crisis.”
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a non-profit organization created by Matthew Whittaker, former Acting Attorney General of President Donald Trump, claimed that Crist used proxy voting to vote 107 times because of his ongoing gubernatorial campaign.
Contrary to Crist’s claim to the House Clerk it is clear that his true motivation for voting by proxy and attending committee hearings virtually is not related to the COVID-19 epidemic. He is doing it so that he can run for governor. Crist attended public events during his gubernatorial campaign, even though he voted through proxy.
FACT called for an investigation after Crist’s spokesperson acknowledged that Crist used proxy voting to continue his campaign.
Crist’s spokesperson stated in April:
Two important tasks are assigned to the Congressman: representing Florida’s 13th District at Congress and providing Floridians with a clear choice for November, after being exhausted by Ron DeSantis’ never-ending culture wars. A proxy is a great way for constituents to have their voices heard in Congress on legislation being considered.
FACT added to its complaint multiple examples of Crist voting proxy while he was campaigning in Florida.
Kendra Arnold, FACT executive director, accused Crist of failing to fulfill his obligation to “maintain integrity of government action.”
The evidence in this case is both public and record. It seems that Rep. Crist is using a rule for a national emergency to advance his political career. The ethics rules are designed to preserve the integrity of government actions. The Office of Congressional Ethics ensures that each member fulfills the public trust in the office, and they adhere to the House’s ethical standards.