The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a nonpartisan group, has filed an ethics complaint against Cindy Axne with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) related to Axne’s use of proxy voting in August for the Inflation Reduction Act.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi instituted the ability for members of Congress to vote by proxy in May 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was still raging across America. Proxy voting is only allowed in situations involving a member being unable to vote in person due to the pandemic and not for any other reason.
Although Axne claimed that she needed to vote for the landmark legislation via proxy “due to the ongoing public health emergency,” a Fox News report later uncovered that Axne had missed the vote because she was on a family vacation to France. This inconsistency between Axne’s words and actions is central to FACT’s complaint.
“The rules are quite clear—the proxy vote may only be used for reasons related to the pandemic and not for any other purposes, including vacations,” FACT’s ethics complaint notes. The complaint adds that submitting a false statement to the House Clerk to proxy vote for a bill is “both a willful violation of the House proxy voting rules and a violation of the basic ethics rules requiring Members to act in a manner that reflects creditably on the House.”
Axne’s vote for the Inflation Reduction Act was already contentious. Among other provisions, the bill provides funding for 87,000 new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees to increase audits to collect more tax revenue, in addition to tax hikes on Americans in middle and lower-income brackets. Numerous nonpartisan organizations such as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Penn Wharton Budget Model have also estimated that, despite the bill’s name, the Inflation Reduction Act likely won’t make a significant impact on curbing historic inflation.
Axne’s decision to vote for the legislation via proxy while vacationing in Europe has added another dimension of criticism against the vulnerable Democrat ahead of the 2022 midterm election.
“Cindy Axne’s doing a stellar job making sure at least one person is thriving in the Biden economy,” a Republican National Committee spokesman said in an email release, “her lawyer.”