Day 1: NE Philly Rep Mike Fitzpatrick Misses Swearing-In Ceremony, Holds Hand Up To TV
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, both a former and current congressman representing parts of Northeast Philly, Bucks County and Montgomery County had quite a first day in Washington. He was so busy partying, he forgot to work.
First off, the irony: Congressional Republicans took to the soapbox yesterday, reading the Constitution out loud in a show of recognizing the document exists, now that many citizen Republicans believe the president is not Constitutionally fit for office, being that he is a socialist, was born in Kenya and is a Muslim CIA spy.
But before they could waste everyone’s time with such a passive-aggressive gesture, all new members of the House needed to, um, get sworn in as congressmen. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick – who, if you’ll remember, lost to Patrick Murphy in 2006 just to beat him back in 2010 – missed the swearing-in ceremony, unfortunately, because he was attending his own “Swearing In Celebration” which took place in the Capitol Visitors Center. Which is apparently illegal.
We placed a call to Fitzpatrick’s Washington office. We heard back only to find out they have no idea when the congressman’s press secretary can get back to us. We therefore only have other reports to go off.
According to those reports, both Fitzpatrick and Texas Representative Jeff Sessions, “watched the swearing-in on television from the Capitol Visitors Center with their hands raised” – which, even if true, doesn’t count. And, if you want to get technical about it, you need not look further than this icy line at the Huffington Post: “There is no provision in the Constitution for a remote swearing-in by television.”
Later on, Fitzpatrick did actually make it down to Congress. He went ahead and read some of the Constitution out loud and even voted.
And here’s something interesting: It’s illegal to host fundraisers in the Capitol Visitor Center. Those who took the day off from work to get bussed down to Washington and eat cake paid $30 to do so. Fitzpatrick spokesman Darren Smith told HuffPo the event wasn’t a fundraiser and the $30 was simply the cost of taking the bus three hours back and forth, though it’s clear from the celebration site the $30/PP (and attendees were allowed to give more) is for the “celebration” – not the bustrip.
Fitzpatrick was re-administered the oath of office by House Speaker John Boehner today.
UPDATE: Fitzpatrick has publicly apologized.
“We are deeply committed to fulfilling our role in our constitutional democracy by maintaining the integrity of the People’s House,” read their letter, which they made public. “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.”
Fitzpatrick has stated the reception was “was not a fund-raiser, and it is quite a stretch to suggest otherwise.”
However, two watchdog groups — The Campaign Legal Center and the Sunlight Foundation — have called for an ethics probe into the matter. Washington media is calling it “Oathgate.”
According to another Huffington Post article into the matter [Emphasis ours]:
But, say congressional ethics experts, the fact remains that Fitzpatrick solicited campaign cash for an event at the Capitol, a clear violation of House rules. Money that the campaign spent on the event would be considered campaign expenditures.
Rules about fundraising on federal property in general and in the Capitol specifically are as strict as possible: It is illegal even to use a personal cell phone to raise funds from the Capitol and campaign events are broadly forbidden.
The invitation to “Mike Fitzpatrick’s Swearing In Celebration” asks for a $30 contribution at the top of document, but further below has buttons for contributions in the amount of $60, $90, $120 and “other.”
And we’ve got a question we’d like answered, too. If Fitzpatrick’s indolence was “unintentional” as his public statement nakedly says, how was he able to have CSPAN on at the exact time to take the oath with the television?