Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Il) begged off from attending the YearlyKos convention in Chicago. Instead, he sent this video which was made in the US Senate studio.
About 3 minutes and 20 seconds into the video, Durbin says that the “netroots” will play an important role in the 2008 elections, that Democrats need their help in increasing majorities in the Senate. And then he asks for their “help” because he is running for re-election next year in Illinois.
But Chapter 6 of the Senate Ethics rules says that the Senate Seal — clearly visible in Durbin’s video on the graphics banner showing his name — cannot be used in campaign materials. Moreover, Chapter 6 says that official Senate resources — including the Senate tv studio cannot be used for campaign purposes:
Official resources may only be used for official purposes. This principle derives in large part from 31 U.S.C. § 1301(a), providing that official funds are to be used only for the purposes for which appropriated, as well as from statutory authorizations for allowances. It is thus inappropriate to use any official resources to conduct campaign or political activities.
Durbin’s video asks for the “netroots” help — donations, political blogging support and whatever else — all of which make the video a campaign activity.
Republican sources declined to speculate on whether there would be an ethics complaint against Durbin. At the very least, Durbin’s campaign should be required to reimburse the Senate for the cost of the video.