GOP rep in trouble for forcing government staff to work on his Senate campaign


Indiana Republican Rep. Todd Rokita was caught mingling his government and campaign offices, in a clear violation of ethics rules.

GOP Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana, who hopes to challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in 2018, has a reputation that precedes him.

An unapologetic Trump supporter who once took to the air to warn immigrant children might be carrying Ebola, Rokita is better known on Capitol Hill as a ruthless taskmaster. He once forced an aide whose body odor offended him to scrub out the interior of his car. In August, Politico detailed Rokita's 8-page memo of instructions for subordinates on how to cater to his every whim while on the road, including lugging around a case stocked with 20 different personal items.

Rokita also reportedly has people on his congressional staff do work for his senatorial campaign if he deems it convenient.


Just one problem: that's against ethics rules.

The American Democracy Legal Fund (ADLF) filed a complaint Sunday against Rokita under the House Code of Official Conduct, in response to allegations that his staff feared retribution unless they volunteered for the campaign.

Brad Woodhouse of American Bridge did not mince words in his criticism of Rokita:

Congressman Rokita forced his taxpayer-paid staffers to perform campaign work for him, and led them to believe speaking out would result in "retribution." This is clear evidence of his disregard for ethical standards the American people expect from their elected officials, and the Office of Congressional Ethics should immediately launch an investigation.

This is not the first ethics complaint against Rokita. ADLF also demanded an investigation into Rokita in July, for campaigning and fundraising before he had officially filed to run for Senate.

Republicans have hopes of making big gains in the Senate in 2018. But as Rokita's ethics problems illustrate, their crop of candidates is deeply flawed and already off to a rocky start.