U.S. Rep. Jared Polis was clueless that he was participating in commercial activities when he endorsed a video game and allowed a clothing company to give him a makeover to promote their products so therefore he did not violate congressional rules, the House Ethics Committee has ruled.
“While it does appear that both the Riot Games video and the Ninox clothing event were intended, at least in part, to promote the businesses, this is true in virtually every instance in which a business participates in or arranges an event with a Member,” the Ethics Committee wrote in its report.
The initial report by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) recommending that Polis be investigated suggested that what Polis did was in fact a violation of House Rules, whether he realized it or not. Here’s why:
OCE found that there was a substantial reason to believe that Rep. Polis engaged in activities that could be perceived as endorsements of Riot Games and Ninox and that he used official resources in promoting the businesses in violation of federal law and House Rules.
The Peak reported on both instances, and dissected the video in which Polis endorsed the game that showed the event was produced in his congressional office, also known as an “official resource.”
But it turns out that unless a member of Congress really, really knows what he is doing is wrong, then it’s not wrong, according to House ethics standards.
Polis dismissed both events as creative constituent outreach, and said that when he learned Ninox had posted his makeover photos on Facebook, he asked the company to remove them.
While clearing Polis of the allegations, the Ethics panel noted in its report that lawmakers should be careful when coordinating events with private businesses given that House rules do not offer a “bright line.”
That’s the understatement of the year.