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Republican Rep. Andrew Clyde evading House fines, GOP colleague says

By Melanie Zanona, CNN

Rep. Andrew Clyde, the Georgia Republican who compared scenes from January 6 to a “tourist visit,” has found a way to evade the House’s mask and metal detector fines, according to one of his GOP colleagues.

Rep. Thomas Massie, who is suing Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the chamber’s mask penalties, said Clyde changed his tax withholding in a way that makes it nearly impossible for the House to collect the thousands of dollars in fines Clyde has already racked up for evading the House’s metal detector; he could also face fines for refusing to mask up on the House floor this week.

Normally fines are taken out of a member’s congressional salary, but Massie says Clyde, who owns a firearms business, “went to payroll and had his federal withholding raised to $11,284 a month. So he only gets $1 of pay.”

The maneuver is designed to prevent the House from garnishing his wages.

Massie added, “Of course, it all goes to his mask fine. But he’ll have to be elected until 3,324 A.D. for Pelosi to collect $15,000 in fines. Then when he files his tax return, he gets all his money back.”

Clyde’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The House Ethics Committee declined to comment.

Based on the House rules, members first get a warning for evading mask rules, then a $500 fine for a second offense, and $2,500 for offenses after that. The House’s fines for refusing to comply with the chamber’s metal detectors are even steeper: $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for a second offense.

Clyde’s elaborate effort to avoid paying fines is just the latest example of how Republicans have been lashing out over covid protocols: Dozens of Republicans refused to wear a mask on the House floor on Wednesday in defiance of the new rules, while the House GOP conference hauled in the Capitol physician for a tense meeting later that afternoon to press him about his decision to issue the new guidance.

The House Committee on Ethics has issued a considerable amount of fines and warnings since the mask rule was first instated. Members had been allowed to be on the House floor without masks since June 11, but the House attending physician reversed that guidance on Tuesday night as the Delta variant emerges as dominant strain of Covid across the country and in light of the new US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that the House fines Rep. Andrew Clyde faces are related to evading metal detectors.

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