Republican Reps. Pete Sessions of Texas and Mike Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania sent an apology letter to all fellow House members late Friday afternoon for skipping out on the chamber’s swearing-in ceremony Wednesday and then voting on legislation while technically not members of Congress.
The two were attending a reception within the capitol building for Fitzpatrick while their colleagues were being sworn in. They even held up their right hands and recited the oath in front of a live television feed of the ceremony, but later found out that according to House rules, members cannot be sworn in remotely. Sessions and Fitzgerald voted six times on the House floor before being officially sworn in later this week, which the House later nullified.
“Our absence on the House floor during the oath of office ceremony for the 112th Congress while not intentional fell short of this standard by creating uncertainty regarding our standing in this body,” the jointly signed letter read. “While we immediately took steps to rectify the situation, we understand that our error allowed the integrity of this great legislative body’s proceedings to be called into question. We regret that this incident adversely affected House proceedings and apologize for any individual inconvenience our actions may have caused.”
In this case, “sorry” might not cut it. Some groups are calling for an ethics investigation into the two members for holding a fund raiser inside the capitol building.
“Reps. Sessions and Fitzpatrick were too busy attending a fundraiser for Fitzpatrick inside the U.S. Capitol, which is a violation of rules set forth in the House Ethics Manual,” said Jeremy Funk, a spokesman for Americans United for Change, a liberal group. “The watchdog group the Sunlight foundation says, ‘The Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Ethics Committee should determine whether or not this type of activity is in violation of the House Ethics rules. From this end, it appears as though this fundraiser was not in meeting with the rules as laid out in the manual.'”
Fitzpatrick’s spokesman told Roll Call that the event was not technically a fundraiser.
The letter was originally reported by Politico.