Grayson campaign: 'Can we just not respond?' to FOX 13's questions

- One day after a congressional ethics committee released a nearly 1,000-page report detailing alleged ethics violations by Polk County Congressman Alan Grayson, the democrat and U.S. Senate candidate dismissed the allegations as "ridiculous."

On Tuesday, the Office of Congressional Ethics said it had "substantial reason to believe" Grayson broke federal laws and House rules in several areas, including allegations he used public resources for private business and campaign actives and did not report required financial information on congressional disclosure statements.

"This report says there might conceivably, maybe, possibly be evidence, and, by the way, this report was prepared by people who are literally in cahoots with [Democratic challenger Patrick] Murphy," Grayson said in response.

Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is running for Marco Rubio's senate seat, called on Grayson to step down.

"The guilt is squarely on him. You know, he was caught red-handed here, managing an offshore hedge fund," Murphy said.

Grayson told reporters his activities were "commonplace."

The report recommends an ethics panel continue to review the allegations.

More than 900 pages released as part of a review by the Office of Congressional Ethics into Rep. Alan Grayson also offer a rare glimpse into the inner-workings of elected officials on Capitol Hill. 

That's because Congress has never created a law that would make it subject to the same kinds of transparency rules governing other federal employees, when it comes to using private email accounts or retaining records of emails.

The congressional report includes an appendix of emails sent between Grayson's congressional public information officer and his campaign manager - both from private email accounts - about how to respond to FOX 13's questions about why Grayson did a media interview announcing his Senate run from his congressional office.

Ethics rules say members of congress can't use public resources for re-election campaigns.

FOX 13 News asked the questions after airing a story that raised questions about his financial disclosure forms

"Did you get this one too? I want to slow-walk this since it will be Friday afternoon,"

campaign manager Kevin Franck asked public information officer Ken Scudder, in a conversation that took place using Scudder's private email account.

A "Friday afternoon" release of potentially negative information about public officials is considered a common strategy in media circles to try and obscure the information from public view. After Scudder responded that he had received FOX 13's questions, Franck had a suggestion:

"Can we just not respond? She won't have anything to report if we don't."

Scudder later responded on Friday afternoon, with a statement saying, in part, the use of his congressional office for the campaign announcement was due to the congressman's "hectic schedule."

Documents released by the ethics review show Grayson edited the statement to add, "There was no choice." FOX 13 broke the story the next week.  

On Wednesday, FOX 13 News contacted Ken Scudder about the use of his private email address for public business:

"Isn't all public business supposed to be on public record?" 

In an email from his government email address, he said,

"There's no such requirement for federal employees."

He later clarified that he was referring to the legislative branch.

The law says executive branch employees cannot use personal email accounts for public business, unless the messages is also sent to their government account, but legislative branch employees aren’t part of that mandate. 

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