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Did FAIR Action Violate Law?

Immigration Group’s Report Asked for Money

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
From left: Sens. Jeff Sessions, Chuck Grassley and David Vitter attend an event on border security, where a group handed out a report that included a fundraising appeal.

An immigration reform group handed out a report that included a fundraising solicitation at a press conference last week hosted by three Republican Senators — a move that may have been a breach of Senate rules.

Sens. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), David Vitter (La.) and Chuck Grassley (Iowa) joined law enforcement officers at a Thursday press conference to argue that the Obama administration’s immigration directives would put agents and citizens at increased risk.

At the event, which was open to the public, a representative with the Federation for American Immigration Reform attended and handed out a report just before the press conference began.

“It’s like church. Pass them down,” the FAIR representative said, according to a reporter who attended the press conference.

A spokesman for Sessions said none of the Senators were involved with the report or its distribution and that the thrust of the press conference was to hear from law enforcement agents who were concerned with the White House’s immigration policy. Spokesmen for Grassley and Vitter gave similar accounts.

The FAIR report, titled “President Obama’s Record of Dismantling Immigration Enforcement,” is essentially a timeline of events from 2009 to 2010 detailing “how the Obama administration has carried out a policy of de facto amnesty for millions of illegal aliens through executive policy decisions.”

Toward the back of the report is a request for funding.

“The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is a national, nonprofit, public-interest, membership organization of concerned citizens who share a common belief that our nation’s immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest,” the request read.

“Your support is crucial to our ability to improve border security, stop illegal immigration, and promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest,” it continued, seeking contributions of $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 or “other” amounts.

“Soliciting contributions in either Senate space or on the Capitol grounds doesn’t just violate the rules of the Senate, it is against the law,” a Democratic aide for the Senate Rules and Administration Committee said. “Events are hosted by the Member or Members who request the space, and they are responsible for ensuring that the room use rules are followed by the entities using that space.”

Under federal law, “A person may not carry out any of the following activities in the [Capitol] Grounds: (1) offer or expose any article for sale; (2) display a sign, placard, or other form of advertisement; (3) solicit fares, alms, subscriptions, or contributions.” Punishment can result in a fine and/or six months in prison.

The Senate Handbook, a compilation of the rules governing office administration, also prohibits such a solicitation in a Senate facility. “Senate space may not be used for any fund-raising purpose,” according to the handbook.

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