A watchdog group on Friday filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) for publicly scolding a park ranger over the closure of the WWII Memorial in the government shutdown.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) said Neugebauer abused his position by attempting to “coerce” the ranger to allow access to the memorial.
Crew told the Office of Congressional Ethics that he violated a House rule that requires members to behave in “a manner that reflects the creditably on the House.”
“Rep. Neugebauer’s demeaning treatment of the ranger reinforces the commonly held belief that members of Congress are arrogant and have an over-inflated sense of superiority,” CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said in a statement.
She said blame for the closure rests on the shoulders of members of Congress who refuse to fund the government.
Video surfaced Thursday of Neugebauer confronting a ranger by saying “The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves” for denying people access.
"How do you look at them and ... deny them access?" said Neugebauer. He, with most House Republicans, had voted early Sunday morning to pass a funding measure that would delay the Affordable Care Act, a vote that set up a showdown with the Senate and President Barack Obama. With the parties unable to agree on how to fund the federal government, non-essential government functions shut down Tuesday.
"It's difficult," responded the Park Service employee.
"Well, it should be difficult," replied the congressman, who was carrying a small American flag in his breast pocket.
"It is difficult," responded the Park Service employee. "I'm sorry, sir."
"The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves," the congressman said.
"I'm not ashamed," replied the ranger.
Vice President Joe Biden called the ranger Thursday evening to tell her he was “proud” of her.
After Biden's public show of support, a petition on Change.org began circulating on Friday, accusing Neugebauer of "incorrectly interfering in the duties of his fellow public employee" and calling on the congressman to "correct himself and publicly apologize" to the ranger.
The petition says Neugebauer "rebuked a U.S. Park Service Ranger for carrying out orders and did so in a very public way that makes it look like [he] doesn't understand how public law and chain of command works."
"Rep Neugebauer needs to correct himself and publicly apologize," the petition says. "It's really that simple."
One of the petition's signers said Neugebauer "should be ashamed of himself and his party. That ranger was doing her job and he was NOT doing his."
Another signer said, "It's absolutely absurd that the very individuals who have caused this shutdown act as if they are the victims."