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Ethics Complaint Filed Against Lawmaker Over Bills Benefiting His Own Gun Stores

GOP Congressman Andrew Clyde was also responsible for distributing AR-15 pins to other lawmakers earlier this year.

Rep. Andrew Clyde wears his assualt rife tie pin as he arrives for the House Republican Conference caucus meeting in the Capitol on March 28, 2023.

A government watchdog has filed a congressional ethics complaint against a Republican lawmaker whom the organization alleges tried to increase his gun businesses’ profits by proposing and promoting pro-gun policies in violation of House rules.

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Georgia) owns two gun stores in his home state. According to the complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Clyde violated ethics rules multiple times by proposing bills and pursuing other policy changes that would likely increase his profits.

Per the complaint, CREW said that Clyde had put forward a bill that would eliminate restrictions on firearms that Attorney General Merrick Garland had approved in January in the form of an executive branch rule. That rule placed stricter regulations on the use of pistol braces, stabilizing devices that attach to pistols and allow them to be fired over the shoulder like a rifle.

Although these kinds of accessories — which are sold in Clyde’s gun stores — have been heavily regulated since the 1930s, they have been linked to several mass shootings in recent years.

Clyde has also put forward a congressional resolution that would eliminate the attorney general’s rule, and has proposed legislation that would stop the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from being able to spend its funds to enforce it.

Clyde’s actions appear to be in direct violation of House standards, the organization wrote on its website.

“House rules clearly state that members normally should not engage in certain official actions, such as sponsoring legislation, advocating or participating in a committee proceeding or contacting an executive branch agency, when their financial interests are at issue,” CREW said.

The organization’s president, Noah Bookbinder, also criticized the lawmaker.

“Clyde’s financial interests in this matter mean we can’t help but ask whether he is prioritizing his own profits over public service and public safety,” Bookbinder said, adding:

We need our representatives to be making decisions based on what is best for the American people, not their own bottom line, which is why the House has the rules that Clyde appears to be violating. The Office of Congressional Ethics must investigate.

There’s no question that Clyde is adamantly pro-gun. Earlier this year, after an atypical spate of mass shootings in January, several Republican lawmakers began wearing AR-15 lapel pins in the halls of Congress and in committee hearings, ostensibly to express their opposition to gun reform legislation. It was later revealed that Clyde, who has worn a similar pin for years, was responsible for distributing them.

Clyde admitted to distributing the pins in a video message shared on Twitter. “I hear that this little pin I’ve been giving out on the House floor has been triggering some of my Democrat colleagues,” he said in his comments, which were delivered during National Gun Violence Survivors Week.

Clyde’s unethical behavior appears to have extended to committee hearings and questioning of witnesses. In April, for example, Clyde grilled ATF Director Steven Dettelbach, berating him over a little-known program that monitors gun stores across the U.S. that are connected to a large number of gun-related crimes. Clyde demonstrated detailed knowledge of the program although it only applies to around 3 percent of the country, The New York Times reported.

That knowledge could be chalked up to Clyde’s dedication to supporting pro-gun proposals and legislation. But as The Times pointed out, Clyde was subject to the monitoring program in 2020 and 2021, as more than 25 guns from his store had been tied to criminal activity.

Some in Congress have condemned Clyde for blatantly exploiting his government position for profit.

“As a gun dealer, Rep. Andrew Clyde is flooding his community w/ firearms used in crimes *and landed on an ATF watch list for it,” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California) wrote in a tweet last week. “As a lawmaker, Clyde is abusing his position to benefit himself & his store. This self-server should be removed from any committee dealing with guns.”

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