Ethics no-no: Doug Collins Senate campaign takes from official page

Move appears to have violated House rules

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., may have violated House rules by reproducing official material on his Senate campaign website.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., may have violated House rules by reproducing official material on his Senate campaign website. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted August 27, 2020 at 6:11pm

Rep. Doug Collins, who is in a tightly contested race for a Georgia Senate seat against Sen. Kelly Loeffler, used exact language describing his anti-abortion position from his official House website for use on his campaign page, seemingly a violation of House Ethics rules.

Members are allowed to use materials originally prepared by the official office for campaigning purposes if those materials have been “exhausted,” but because Collins’ stance on abortion is still laid out on his official House website, it would be prohibited from being directly copied for his Senate campaign.

On his government website, Collins, a Georgia Republican, lists several examples of efforts he has made under the heading “Protecting Life.” The examples he gives under this section on his official website mirror what is listed under the “Defending the Right to Life” component of his senate campaign page.

Collins Senate campaign page.

The House Ethics Committee notes that a campaign cannot reproduce a member’s stance on an issue that is taken verbatim from the official House website if it still appears on the official website:

“On the other hand, when a congressional office posts a statement setting out the Member’s views on the major issues on its official website, the Member’s campaign is not free to reproduce that statement so long as it remains on the official website. So long as a statement of that nature remains posted on the official site, its official use is not exhausted.”

Tom Rust, staff director and spokesman for the Ethics Committee, had no comment.

Collins official House page on anti-abortion stance 1/2.
Collins official House page on anti-abortion stance 2/2.

Collins is a devout baptist pastor. His opposition to abortion is a crucial part of his Senate campaign — it’s second on his list of issues behind supporting President Donald Trump.

A representative for Collins’ House office referred questions to the campaign. Dan McLagan, a campaign spokesman, said they would look into it. “Well, Doug’s pro-life position is remarkably consistent. That being said, we will look into it and address any errors,” McLagan said.

Loeffler was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp following the resignation of Republican Johnny Isakson on Dec. 31, 2019. Loeffler and Collins are among several candidates in the November special election. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzalez rates the race as “Lean Republican.”