10 Jul 2017
You’ve probably seen how KellyAnne Conway used her government job to hype Ivanka Trump’s Made-in-China clothing line, a clear violation of ethics law. Any other government employee would have been fired for that.
Barbara Comstock has been doing the same thing — using her position to publicize large and small businesses that donate heavily to her campaign.
She received $7,000 from government contractor Orbital Sciences and then helped publicize a $1 billion government contract award for them. Orbital’s stock price went from $54 to $75 in just two months, worth $1.5 billion to investors.
She received a $1,000 donation from a Home Depot lobbyist in June 2016. In August 2016, Comstock made a personal appearance at a Home Depot store in Leesburg and used her official Twitter account to promote it.
Mega-bank Capital One gave Comstock $17,700. Comstock tweeted Capital One’s slogan “What’s in your wallet?” and congratulated Capital One for favorable coverage in Fortune magazine. Comstock also voted to kill federal protection against another financial crisis, legislation for which Capital One lobbied heavily.
You don’t have to live inside her district to get a promotional tweet from Comstock. Linda Han gave $2,700 and then received a promotional tweet for her book publication a few months later. Comstock was so busy counting her donations that she failed to notice that she was standing next to an upside down American flag
Comstock even used her Twitter account to promote wealthy Goldman Sachs insider James Donovan when he was under consideration to help run the Treasury Department. Donovan and his wife have donated $10,800 to Comstock. Coincidence?
Numerous local small businesses have also donated to Comstock and benefited from her promotional activities. (See partial list below.)
Comstock’s long pattern of promoting her campaign donors is unmistakable. Comstock is clearly violating a key rule in the House Ethics Manual:
Never accept favors or benefits that might be construed as influencing the performance of governmental duties.
Barbara Comstock is not the only elected official with ethics problems but, as your mother probably told you, two wrongs don’t make it right. Barbara Comstock should be draining the swamp, not enlarging it.
Campaign donors receiving promotional support from Comstock:
- Breaux Vineyards $5,400 (Paul Breaux)
- Joe May $500 (Joey May)
- Valley Health $1,100 (Kevin Callanan, Mark Merrill)
- Glaize Apples $2,000 (Fred Glaize)
- Valley Proteins $5,400 (Gerald Smith)
- Rotz Pharmacy $500 (John Rotz)
- Orbital Sciences $7,025 (DeBasis Basak, Orbital PC)
- Home Depot $1,000 (Kent Knutson)
- Capital One $17,700 (Capital One PAC plus five Capital One employees)
- James Donovan $10,800 (James Donovan and spouse)
- Dominion Power $11,700 (Dominion PAC, Thomas Farrell)
- Northrup Grumman $11,250 ((Wesley Bush and spouse))
- Linda Hahn $2,700 (Linda Han)
We can do better.