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A citizens group has filed an ethics complaint against Republican House Speaker John Boehner for spending too much money to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed the complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, claiming Boehner violated the Anti-Deficiency Act, which was designed to stop government officials from overspending appropriations funds. Boehner directed the House Office of General Counsel to sign a contract to pay an outside firm $500,000 to defend the controversial legislation after President Barack Obama decided that the Justice Department would no longer defend it.
“It is ironic that Speaker Boehner — a fierce critic of government overspending — did not hesitate to pledge half a million dollars he does not have to defend a law of dubious constitutionality,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “It seems the speaker believes fiscal responsibility starts at home, but not in the House.”
Violators of the Anti-Deficiency Act are subject to administrative discipline, and knowingly violating the act is punishable by up to two years imprisonment.
In February, Attorney General Eric Holder told Speaker Boehner that because President Obama had determined DOMA is unconstitutional, the Department of Justice would no longer defend the law in 10 pending cases. The speaker then directed the OGC to hire outside counsel to defend the statute. The $500,000 former Solicitor General Paul Clement’s law firm will receive for representing the House is more than 35% of the $1,415,000 Congress appropriated for the OGC, leaving the OGC with insufficient funds to cover both the office’s salaries and expenses and the costs of defending DOMA.
“Speaker Boehner has vowed to end deficit spending and usher in a new era of government fiscal austerity, warning Americans we need to make do with less. But apparently, the House leadership can continue freely spending money it doesn’t have,” Sloan said. “This is yet another case of ‘do as I say, not as I do.’ No wonder the public is so cynical about politics.”