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McCarthy hit with ethics complaint over luxury condo he rented from GOP pollster

Meanwhile, the House minority leader is trying to remove Liz Cheney from her leadership role for not lying enough.

By Josh Israel - May 11, 2021
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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy

A watchdog group has filed an ethics complaint against House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, accusing him of lying about a luxury apartment he rented from a top Republican pollster. This comes as he works to remove the only woman on his leadership team for telling the truth about Donald Trump.

The Campaign for Accountability asked the Office of Congressional Ethics on Friday to investigate whether the California Republican broke House rules by renting a room in Frank Luntz’s Washington, D.C., condominium at below-market rates — which could have been an illegal and unreported gift.

“House ethics rules are clear and Representative McCarthy is no neophyte. As leader of the House Republicans, he should be setting an example for his caucus, not trying to skirt the rules,” Michelle Kuppersmith, the group’s executive director, said in a press release. “If he violated the gift rule, he must be held accountable.”

McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

But McCarthy told Fox News last week that he had “rented a room from Frank for a couple of months” — an agreement that likely violated the property’s bylaws, according to the Washington Post.

“Don’t worry, I’m back to — going back to where I normally am, on my couch in my office. But, yes, we pay fair market rate,” he claimed.

Last Tuesday, a McCarthy spokesperson told a right-wing outlet: “McCarthy rented a room of approximately 400 square feet, and under House Ethics guidelines, calculated the fair market amount at $1,500/month by comparing what other members of Congress were also paying to live in the building and additional comparables for the space in the building and neighborhood.”

But Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler noted Tuesday that similar spaces in Luntz’s building run between $1,675 and $2,300 a month and homeowners’ association fees run nearly $5,000 a month, per unit — covering the costs of a roof-top pool, round the clock concierge, and other amenities. That apparent gap would constitute a gift from Luntz to McCarthy.

These ethics allegations come as McCarthy is leading the charge to remove House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney from her post as the number-three House GOP official. Her crimes: She admitted that Trump lost the 2020 election and then worked to hold him accountable for inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

McCarthy, who once also acknowledged Trump’s culpability for the attacks but has since reverted to being a staunch defender of the twice-impeached one-termer, is mad that Cheney has not followed his lead.

“Having heard from so many of you in recent days, it’s clear that we need to make a change. As such, you should anticipate a vote on recalling the Conference Chair this Wednesday,” he told his caucus on Monday.

In the past, McCarthy has occasionally tried to present himself as a defender of congressional ethics.

In 2016, he called the House Ethics Committee chair position an “important role for this institution & our country.”

Citing optics, he framed himself as an opponent of an effort to gut the outside Office of Congressional Ethics in 2017.

In February 2019, he said in a press release that “Members on the Ethics Committee are charged with guarding the institution of the House of Representatives.”

He has also called out Democratic colleagues who he believed crossed ethical lines, often trying to boot them from powerful positions.

Though he had not been accused of any wrongdoing, McCarthy unsuccessfully tried to remove Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) from his seat of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in March, vaguely citing classified information about Swalwell’s ties to an alleged Chinese spy.

Since the 2019 impeachment inquiry, he also has repeatedly demanded Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) lose his chairmanship of the intelligence panel and called for him to be censured for accurately describing Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president.

McCarthy has, thus far, not stepped aside from his position.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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