Wisconsin Watchdog: Tammy Baldwin Takes Down Political Video That Appears to Have Violated Senate Ethics Rule

Tammy Baldwin takes down political video that appears to have violated Senate ethics rule
Wisconsin Watchdog
M.D. Kittle
February 1, 2017

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, without comment, has removed video of her interrogating President Donald Trump nominee Tom Price during a Senate committee confirmation hearing earlier this month after Wisconsin Watchdog reported that Baldwin appears to have violated Senate ethics rules.

The Madison Democrat pulled the 1 minute, 27-second video clip Tuesday, a day after the story broke. Several videos of Baldwin peppering the Health and Human Services secretary nominee with questions, however, remain on Baldwin’s Twitter account.

Baldwin’s office has not returned several calls seeking comment. A spokesman for the Senate Rules Committee, too, has failed to answer Wisconsin Watchdog’s questions regarding the senator’s use of Senate video.

Baldwin’s handlers on Jan. 19 posted the video clip of the senator grilling Price about his position on Medicaid prescription drug price negotiations during the Jan. 18 Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

A clip on Baldwin’s Facebook site declared, “A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer should not be this difficult,” a dig at Price’s answer. The clip suddenly disappeared Tuesday.

Use of Senate video clips for political purposes runs afoul of a 30-year-old ethics resolution in the Senate Manual, which contains the “standing rules, orders, laws, and resolutions affecting the business of the U.S. Senate.”

“The use of any tape duplication of radio or television coverage of the proceedings of the Senate for political campaign purposes is strictly prohibited,” states the 1986 resolution on television and radio broadcast of Senate chamber proceedings.

“….(A)ny tape duplication of radio or television coverage of the proceedings of the Senate furnished to any person or organization shall be made on the condition, agreed to in writing, that the tape duplication shall not be used for political campaign purposes.”

Baldwin’s handlers grabbed one of the videos from MSNBC, but news networks received the feed from the Senate. The Senate does not allow any recorded use of hearings or other Senate business for political purposes.

Wisconsin Republicans earlier this week criticized Baldwin for breaking the rules while political grandstanding. On Wednesday, an official from the Republican Party of Wisconsin blasted Baldwin for “trying to cover up the controversy.”

“It should be no surprise that Senator Baldwin is trying cover up this controversy instead of answering to Wisconsin voters,” Alec Zimmerman, press secretary for the Wisconsin GOP, said in an email.  “After nearly twenty years of talk in Washington, Senator Baldwin thinks that the rules no longer apply to her.”

Baldwin, who served 14 years in the House as the Second Congressional District’s first female and openly gay representative, was elected to the Senate in 2012. She is up for re-election next year.

In another clip sent out on Baldwin’s Twitter account, the senator hits Price on Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“If you repeal the #ACA, the impact is not narrowly confined to Medicaid and the individual market, it has impact on every American,” the tweet quoted Baldwin from the Senate hearing session.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in 2015 was forced to take down a presidential campaign video because it, too, appeared to violate the Senate’s rule on video usage.

The video, titled “Rand Paul: Filibuster for the Fourth Amendment,” used video footage and audio from the Kentucky Republican’s long Senate floor speech about government surveillance, according to a story in CQ Roll Call. The Senate Rules Committee took immediate action.

“Use of any duplication of television coverage of the proceedings of the Senate for campaign purposes is strictly prohibited,” Senate Rules Committee spokesman Brian Hart wrote in an email to CQ Roll Call at the time. “The Rules Committee advised Senator Paul’s office and they agreed to take the video down.”

Read the story online here.