Busted: WNC Rep. Chuck Edwards sanctioned for abusing communications standards

Congressman Chuck Edwards was sanctioned by a House commission earlier today. Congressman Chuck Edwards was sanctioned by a House commission earlier today. photo

Western North Carolina Congressman Chuck Edwards (R-Henderson) has been unanimously sanctioned by the bipartisan House Communications Standards Commission for violating federal law and the rules of the House of Representatives, according to a press release issued today by the Henderson County Democratic Party — the group that filed the complaint on March 13.

An April 24 letter from the ranking member and the chair of the Commission to HCDP chair Leslie Carey “found substantial reason to believe a violation occurred” and that “penalties against the office” had been issued. 

The letter didn’t say what those penalties were, but pursuant to the House Communications Standards Division rules, he's likely to face only a written warning and mandatory training, as it's his first offense. Subsequent violations will result in the suspension of privileges. 

The violation in the complaint stems from allegations that email newsletters sent out by Edwards in May, June, July and December of 2023 included personal attacks and disparaging comments about President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Such political attacks are prohibited in official communications. The Commission's vote was 6-0.

“Edwards should have been aware of those prohibitions,” said Carey.

The sanctions come after a previous, unsuccessful complaint filed by the Henderson County Democratic Party earlier this year, alleging Edwards abused the taxpayer-funded franking system when he disparaged Asheville and its Democratic officials in a series of mailers.

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Although that complaint was dismissed by the Commission, Carey disagreed with the decision and seemed satisfied with the results of her latest effort to hold Edwards accountable for his abuses.

“It is our belief that the commission improperly dismissed our first complaint, but we are gratified that they found merit in our recent complaint and sanctioned Chuck Edwards for his egregious violations,” Carey said.

Edwards, currently running for his second term against Asheville Democratic state Rep. Caleb Rudow, did not immediately respond to a request by The Smoky Mountain News for comment.

"This is part of a larger pattern of multi-millionaire, D.C. insider elites like Chuck Edwards breaking the rules for personal gain," Rudow said. "Instead of focusing on serving constituents in WNC, he disregarded well-known prohibitions and abused the power of his office to score political points."

Hendersonville attorney Bruce Macdonald authored both of the complaints against Edwards, which were filed by Carey on behalf of the HCDP.

“No one is above the law, as Chuck Edwards often says, and of course that includes him. He should stop attacking the Biden family in these illegal newsletters and spend more time working on the issues that really matter to his constituents,” Carrey said. “He needs to do two things to make this right with the voters of the 11th District: acknowledge his error, and assure his constituents that it will not happen again. That certainly is not too much to ask for a breach of the public trust.”



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