Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., has been under fire ever since he registered an objection to certifying the Electoral College results from a couple states on January 6, the day of the Capitol riot. Both he and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the other outspoken critic of the presidential election results in a few swing states, have been on the receiving end of criticism in the media and from other politicians for their actions and votes on the issue.
After seven Democrats filed an ethics complaint against Hawley and Cruz, Hawley fired back with his own counter-complaint. In a separate letter to the seven senators who filed the complaint – Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Tim Kaine, D-Va. – Hawley expressed his outrage.
“I was astounded to see the outrageous personal and partisan attack you labeled an ‘ethics complaint,’” the letter begins. “It is a startling abuse of the ethics process and a direct assault on democratic debate.”
Hawley goes on to explain that using a disagreement over whether a senator can object to Electoral College certification as the basis for an ethics complaint undermines the democratic process.
“In light of the shameful abuse of the ethics process you have deliberately engaged in, I have considered whether I should call for you to resign or be expelled from the Senate,” Hawley wrote. “But I continue to believe in the First Amendment, which the US Supreme Court has repeatedly said protects even ‘offensive’ and malicious speech, such as yours.”
In Hawley’s letter to the Senate Ethics Committee he blasts the seven liberals for their misuse of the ethics process.
“[T]his complaint is none other than a transparent attempt by seven Senators to punish a political opponent for the entirely lawful representation of their constituents. The Senate cannot function if its neutral administrative processes are hijacked for bad-faith ends, but that is precisely what is occurring here,” Hawley wrote.
Interestingly, the seven Democrats admitted in their ethics complaint that Hawley and Cruz were within their rights to object to certifying Electoral College results. But, they argue, the objections were not made in good faith because there was no election fraud. Also, they allege that after the riot interrupted the Senate’s debate on January 6, the two Republicans had a duty to withdraw their objections.
“By continuing to object to the electors after the insurrection, Senators Cruz and Hawley lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause,” the Democrats complaint reads.
Will anything come of either complaint?
The partisan nature of the original ethics complaint, as well as the current 50-50 Democrat-Republican split in the Senate suggests that it is highly unlikely that either complaint will result in any disciplinary action against any of the senators involved.
The complaints will ensure, however, that the partisan rancor in the Senate will continue for the foreseeable future.
Photo from ALEXANDER DRAGO/REUTERS