WASHINGTON—The Heritage Foundation announced today that it has filed an official ethics complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) on behalf of Heritage legal fellow Amy Swearer. The complaint was filed against U.S. Rep. Katie Porter of California for “knowingly and intentionally defaming” Swearer during a June 8 hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on gun violence and Second Amendment rights.
During Porter’s questioning of Swearer, Porter accused her, falsely and with no basis in fact, of perjury by lying to Congress during a previous appearance. She subsequently used her Twitter presence to make the exchange go viral.
As the complaint states, Porter “grossly abused her privileges under the Speech and Debate Clause to publicly slander Ms. Swearer with impunity, affording her no recourse or ability to defend herself and her reputation.” The complaint makes clear that this “unethical conduct reflects discreditably on the House and undermines the integrity of its proceedings.”
In the exchange, Porter brought up answers Swearer had given Rep. Jim Jordan three years earlier during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on so-called “assault weapons.” Porter twice asserted that Swearer had “falsely testified under oath” during her 2019 hearing, a clear accusation of perjury to which she refused to allow Swearer to respond. Porter’s antics were quickly called out by other members of the committee.
According to the complaint, “The House Ethics Committee has, in recent years, found that conduct substantially similar to Rep. Porter’s perjury accusation violates House ethics rules by failing to reflect creditably on the House.”
In light of Porter’s shameful behavior, Heritage is asking the OCE to consider any or all of the following actions:
- Reprimand or admonish Rep. Porter for reflecting discreditably on the House by knowingly and intentionally defaming a congressional witness, in clear abuse of the privileges outlined in the Speech and Debate Clause.
- Remind all members of Congress that while they may disagree with a witness’s testimony, they have a duty to refrain from, at the very least, falsely accusing them of perjury for political gain.
- Recommend that Rep. Porter’s accusation be stricken from the record.
- Recommend that Rep. Porter either apologize for falsely accusing a witness of perjury when she knew it to be false, or publicly clarify that she did not intend to accuse Swearer of a federal crime and should have chosen her words more carefully.
Heritage Foundation President Kevin Roberts released the following statement upon filing of the complaint:
“Amy Swearer is one of the brightest, most influential Second Amendment scholars in this country. She is also a forthright and honest patriot who believes in the Constitution. Rep. Porter’s behavior toward her was emblematic of what Washington has become—unserious and unscrupulous individuals more interested in viral moments and social media clout than honest policy discussions and problem-solving. That’s why we’re filing this complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics.
“Members of Congress like Katie Porter need to be reminded whom they serve, and put back in their place when they overstep. If Ms. Porter is interested in an authentic conversation about Second Amendment rights and the intricacies of various firearm legislation, we are more than willing to help educate her.”