Bush Ad May Violate Senate Regulations

Posted March 17, 2004 at 4:56pm

The Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign has shown in recent days that it has done voluminous research on Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) record in the Senate. But it may not be as familiar with the chamber’s rules.

The campaign’s latest television ad, focusing on Kerry’s past votes on military issues, appears to violate Senate rules governing broadcasts of the body’s proceedings.

The ad, titled “Troops,” features a female narrator naming items such as body armor and higher combat pay, followed by an audio clip of a Senate clerk saying, “Mr. Kerry,” and the narrator intoning, “No.”

The ad also uses what appear to be quick video shots of the chamber floor.

Both those shots and the audio of the clerk appear to violate a rule in the Senate manual that states: “The use of any tape duplication of radio or television coverage of the proceedings of the Senate for political campaign purposes is strictly prohibited.”

The Bush campaign did not return several calls seeking comment. A campaign spokesman told ABC News, “The images and materials we use in ads is carefully examined and used appropriately.”

But even if the ad does violate the rules, procedural experts and Senate officials said there is no obvious way for the Senate to stop the campaign from running the spot.

One expert suggested that Vice President Cheney could be sanctioned for failure to follow the Senate rules because he is also president of the chamber.

But the Senate Ethics Manual states, “The [Ethics] Committee has determined that the vice president, although a constitutional officer with the duty of presiding over the Senate, is not a Member, employee or officer of the Senate as those terms are used in the Code of Official Conduct.”