Updated: 8:39 p.m.
The freshman Republican who missed his own swearing-in fought back Thursday against accusations that he was instead at a fundraiser on the Capitol grounds.
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.) was attending a celebration in the Capitol Visitor Center with supporters that his campaign bused in from Pennsylvania. Fitzpatrick spokesman Darren Smith said the event, titled “Fitzpatrick’s Swearing-in Celebration,” was not a fundraiser and that no contributions were collected.
Fitzpatrick’s campaign website listed a $30 fee for transportation costs for the festivities. In addition, more than 200 people who did not ride the buses attended the event for free, Smith said.
According to a copy of CVC rules, the space may not be used for “political activities, including political campaign, political party, or political action committees activities.”
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (Texas) also attended the event and missed the swearing-in. Sessions and Fitzpatrick voted eight times before being officially sworn in Thursday.
Rules Chairman David Dreier (R-Calif.) said Thursday in a hearing that Republicans would move to nullify the votes as part of a rule that will govern the floor debate on a health care repeal bill.
A Democratic strategist criticized Smith’s characterization of the event.
“They can say what they want, but Representative Sessions and then-Representative-elect Fitzpatrick missed their own swearing in and put the entire work of the House in limbo because they were hobnobbing with people who paid to be there,” the strategist said in an e-mail.
Fitzpatrick has served in the House before: He was elected in 2004 but lost his Pennsylvania seat two years later to Democrat Patrick Murphy. He then defeated Murphy in November.