Updated 9:31 a.m. | Florida Democrat Alan Grayson filed an ethics complaint Wednesday against House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., alleging they violated federal law and House rules by using official funds appropriated to the Benghazi Committee to pay political or campaign-related expenses.
"This represents the new McCarthyism — the misuse of [official] funds for political purposes to vilify a political opponent," Grayson told CQ Roll Call. He said the House Select Committee on Benghazi, chaired by Gowdy, is an "effort to embarrass" Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The three-page letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics , obtained by CQ Roll Call, alleges McCarthy revealed the political motivations for the Benghazi Committee in his now infamous Sept. 29 interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity.
“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” McCarthy said. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known that any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen.”
Though the violation may tread into some murky territory of the House Ethics Manual, Grayson believes the interview made the wrongdoing clear. "That's a confession that this is totally for political purposes," he said. Grayson also called out Republicans for delaying action until the brink of 2016 primary season.
The complaint alleges Gowdy has dragged out the work of the committee for 17 months, without holding a single hearing since January, in the meantime issuing subpoenas to State Department employees and others close to the former secretary "in an apparent effort to generate anti-Clinton information and disinformation."
The rancor between Republicans and Democrats over the Benghazi panel has ramped up in recent days, as Clinton is set to make an appearance before the committee on Oct. 22. On Wednesday, a New York Times editorial called for shutting down the committee or renaming it “the Inquisition of Hillary Rodham Clinton.”
On Tuesday night, Rules ranking member Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., suggested disbanding the committee.
“Speaker-in-Waiting Kevin McCarthy accidentally told the truth last week and admitted that the Benghazi select committee had one mission alone: to influence a presidential election," she said.
McCarthy, the leading candidate to replace outgoing Speaker John A. Boehner , has since walked back the comments , insisting the panel has nothing to do with politics, but the uproar has bled over into his bid for the speakership .
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