Politico Caves to Sen. McConnell’s Office

If you’re looking for the video on Politico’s website featuring Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) Chief of Staff Josh Holmes, then good luck.

Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner, a former staff writer at Politico, reported that as of Thursday, the video had been removed from the advertising page of the Rosslyn, Va. news outlet’s website at the request of McConnell’s office.

As the piece explains, the video may have violated Senate Ethics Rules, which prohibit senators and the staffs from using their “official congressional capacity” to endorse outside entities. This would not prevent Holmes (pictured at left) from endorsing Politico as an avid reader, but it does apply to the use of his chief of staff title.

From Roll Call:

“The video, posted earlier this week under the ‘audience’ tab of Politico’s advertising page, features Josh Holmes and identifies him with the title: “Chief of Staff, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, KY.” Holmes spends the first half of the video explaining his job, with shots taken inside McConnell’s office, and the second half of the video explaining why he reads the Washington publication. The video ends with the top staffer saying, “I’m Josh Holmes and I’m a Politico.”

A shortened version of the video can be found here on Vimeo.

The full video was removed from the advertising page but can be found on a different Politico page, by itself, which Roll Call found “via a live Politico link.” Politico Editor-in-Chief John Harris was asked by FBDC to comment on the situation, but is on the road and unable to respond so he passed the request along to Sara Olson, Politico‘s VP of Marketing.

McConnell’s office said the purpose of the video, which was to solicit advertisers, was not made clear by Politico at the time Holmes agreed to be in it. The original email to Holmes from Politico‘s Olson, asking him to do the video did say it would be posted on the “about” page and was “not an editorial feature.” The “about” page is a rather new feature Politico has been using to promote itself — in this case, it may have gone too far.

The full email can be found in the story, which further explains the uncertainties of the video’s potential ethics violations. It also features a transcript of the full video. Read here.

Screenshot credit: Roll Call