ELECTION 2020

Iowa Democrats make ethics issue out of Rep. Ashley Hinson's social media

At issue is a challenge to close election in 2nd District

Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, meets supporters at Jimmy Z's Cedar Rapids on Nov. 3, 2020, the day she was elected to Congress
Ashley Hinson, R-Marion, meets supporters at Jimmy Z’s Cedar Rapids on Nov. 3, 2020, the day she was elected to Congress. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — The Iowa Democratic Party complained Monday to a nonpartisan U.S. House ethics body that Republican U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson has improperly used her official social media accounts, an accusation the congresswoman’s office disputes.

The state party’s complaint, filed with the U.S. House Office of Congressional Ethics, asserts that Hinson used official social media accounts to lobby people against a Democrat-led challenge to the election results in Eastern Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District.

The party’s request for an investigation notes that, in a series of videos, 1st District Rep. Hinson asks people to contact their representatives to urge them to reject the challenge to results in the 2nd District.

Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks defeated Democrat Rita Hart by just six votes in the 2nd District race in November’s elections.

The state has certified the results after recounts were conducted in each of the district’s counties. The Associated Press, which initially held off calling the race, has since declared Miller-Meeks the winner but said it would keep tabs on a challenge.

Hart’s campaign has petitioned a U.S. House committee to review the results, given what the Hart campaign believes are ballots that were legally cast but not counted.

“On multiple occasions, Rep. Hinson has used her official social media accounts to solicit support from the general public for her opposition to an outstanding contest petition in a neighboring congressional district,” says the request, signed by Iowa Democratic Party Chair Mark Smith.

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Since the Hart campaign challenged the election results in the U.S. House, the issue is official House business, Hinson’s office said.

Further, Hinson’s staff pointed to myriad examples of U.S. House Democrats also using official office social media channels to encourage constituents to lobby fellow House members on various issues.

“Ashley is working hard every day to serve Iowans and bring folks together to get things done. Congress does not decide elections, voters do, and Ashley will continue to work to ensure that remains the case,” Sophie Seid, a spokeswoman for Hinson, said in an emailed statement.

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann also said the 2nd District race became U.S. House business by way of the Hart campaign’s petition.

“When Rita Hart asked Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi to decide this case instead of Iowa voters or the courts, she made this race official business of the U.S. Congress. This is just another embarrassing, failed effort from the Iowa Democratic Party,” Kaufmann said in an emailed statement.

A spokesman for the Office of Congressional Ethics said the office’s rules prohibit commenting on specific complaints like Smith’s.

Comments: (563) 333-2659; erin.murphy@lee.net

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