U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, is looking to take his appeal of $15,000 in fines levied against him for refusing to walk through metal detectors to enter the House floor in February to a federal courtroom after a failed appeal to the House Ethics Committee.
On April 12, the House Ethics Committee said that they planned to uphold two fines totalling $15,000 against Clyde after he evaded security screenings required to enter the House chamber.
In a statement sent to The Times, Clyde, a freshman lawmaker, said that he is challenging the fines handed down to him by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on the basis that the placement of the metal detectors is “unconstitutional.”
“I recently learned that the formal appeal of my fines incurred as a result of refusing to comply with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s unconstitutional placement of metal detectors at the entrance to the floor of the House of Representatives was rejected,” Clyde said in a statement. “This now provides the legal standing which I needed to challenge this unconstitutional resolution.”
The metal detectors were put into effect in January, in response to the events of Jan. 6, which saw a group of pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol in an effort to stop Congress from ratifying then-President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.
The House adopted the metal detector rule on a 216-210 vote, with all Republicans voting against it.
Lawmakers who bypass the metal detectors face a $5,000 fine for a first offense and $10,000 for each offense after that. If lawmakers don't pay within 90 days, the fine will be deducted from their paychecks.
Clyde received his first fine on Feb. 4, and a second on Feb. 8.
Clyde and fellow Republican lawmaker Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, are the only members of Congress to be fined thus far for bypassing the metal detector.
Clyde expanded his argument in his appeal letter, saying the metal detectors violate the 27th Amendment, which prohibits any law that changes lawmakers' salaries before their next terms in office. Clyde said he believes the fines for bypassing the metal detector are being unfairly enforced on House Republicans.
The House Ethics Committee upheld fines for Gohmert, as well.
The salary for House members is $174,000, and they are not allowed to pay the fine with campaign funds or from their House office budget.
Lawmakers can appeal fines to the House Ethics Committee -- a 30-day decision window is given to the five-person committee -- and a fine is upheld when a majority of the panel votes to deny the appeal.
Capitol building administrative staff told The Times that members of Congress were previously given entrance into the building by showing their lawmaker pins.
Clyde made it clear that his plan is to fight the fines levied against him through federal channels.
“While my team and I continue to await an announcement of a fine levied on the Speaker, we are preparing for the next stage of this fight. I will take my case to federal court where I am confident justice will be served,” Clyde said.
Clyde has also made allegations that Pelosi has bypassed the detectors herself, making reference to a letter by House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis, R-Illinois, and other lawmakers disclosing the account.
Members of the Committee on House Administration sent a letter Feb. 5, around the time Clyde’s fine was announced, asking the sergeant-at-arms to impose a fine on Pelosi.
“Another aspect that greatly concerns me is the unequal enforcement and selective manner these fines have been implemented,” said Clyde. “Noting the existence of closed-circuit footage providing irrefutable proof that Speaker Pelosi bypassed her own screening procedures.”
His letter stated multiple members saw Pelosi enter the chamber “without completing security screening.”