House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) appears to be receiving legal services from one of his senior staffers that would violate basic ethics rules, a watchdog group says.
Government watchdog Americans for Public Trust told Fox News it believes that Nadler’s district director Robert Gottheim performed fiduciary services as an attorney for the Democrat between 2019 and 2021 while also meeting the senior staff threshold.
“The outside employment restrictions define certain activities for which senior staff (as well as House Members and officers) may not receive any compensation whatsoever,” the House Committee on Ethics states on its website.
“The restrictions prohibit senior staff from, among other things, (1) receiving compensation for practicing any profession that involves a fiduciary relationship, including, for example, law or accounting, and (2) serving for compensation as an officer or director of any entity.”
The House of Representatives’ ethics rules also prohibit senior staff, members and chamber officers from receiving “any compensation for either providing legal services to a political organization, or for serving as an officer (such as a treasurer) of such an organization.”
Gottheim, who has been a member of Nadler’s staff since 1998, was paid for services by the congressman’s campaign between 2003 and 2018, but prior to 2019, he did not meet the senior staff payment threshold, making it legal for him to perform fiduciary services.
According to Federal Elections Commission data, Gottheim was paid $81,345 between 2019 and 2021, categorized as “legal and political consulting.”
A spokesperson for Nadler told Fox News that Gottheim “doesn’t practice law in any capacity, including the campaign” and served in a “strategic advisor” role on the campaign.
“He’s a campaign advisor, which doesn’t have any fiduciary responsibility,” the spokesperson said. “When the campaign files the quarterly reports the treasurer must choose a category to list his expenditures, so they chose ‘legal & strategic advising.’ He’s a strategic advisor, not a lawyer.”
However, the New York City West Side Democrats’ officers website, on which Gottheim serves as treasurer, notes that Gottheim has been “Counsel for Nadler for Congress, handling all campaign finances & compliance issues w/ the FEC” since 1997.
Caitlin Sutherland, the executive director of APT, told Fox News that “Jerry Nadler brags about being the ‘conscience of the House,’ yet he can’t even ensure that his top staffer is in compliance with simple House ethics rules.”
“It is absolutely against the law to be compensated for campaign work that involves fiduciary duties, and accordingly, we will look into filing a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics,” Sutherland continued.
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