US Representative Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) may have stumbled into an ethical mire, potentially disregarding House ethics rules, as per the House Ethics Committee’s guidelines. The issue revolves around the GOP lawmaker’s alleged failure to disclose income from her memoir, “My American Life”, released in July 2022.
The rulebook is pretty clear: Members of Congress need to report both received and anticipated royalties from book sales, even when exact future earnings are uncertain. However, it seems Boebert decided to ignore this rule in the playbook. Reports indicate she did not report any royalties from her memoir, a move that, according to Congressional guidelines and legal experts, could put her in violation of House ethics rules.
Boebert’s spokesperson attempted damage control, claiming she hadn’t seen a dime from her book deal until January 2023. However, this justification doesn’t seem to gel with the standing ethics guidance. According to the House ethics guidelines, members should report ‘any royalties currently due from the publisher for completed sales,’ using terms such as ‘indefinite’ or ‘unascertainable’ if future royalties cannot be estimated.
In a perplexing twist, Tom Rust, the staff director and chief counsel of House Ethics, contradicted the written House guidance and seemingly absolved Boebert of disclosure responsibilities. Despite the rules’ apparent straightforwardness, Rust appeared to endorse Boebert’s non-disclosure, stating that she didn’t need to share any information about her publishing agreement or royalties on her 2022 financial disclosure statement.
However, ethics experts insist the rules aren’t rocket science and they’re implemented for a reason. Kedric Payne, Vice president and Senior Director of Ethics at the nonpartisan watchdog Campaign Legal Center explained that book deals are quite common in Congress, and guidelines expressly demand disclosure of royalty income.
Highlighting the alarm bells this situation rings, Payne stated, “Voters have a right to know that their elected officials are fully transparent about their financial interests.” As we continue to champion transparency and accountability in politics, situations like these serve as a stark reminder of the need for comprehensive adherence to ethical guidelines.