Rep Wiley Nickel, who says Congressional office doesn’t use TikTok, faces ethics complaint over app

FILE - Rep. Wiley Nickel, D-N.C., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

RALEIGH — Freshman Democratic Rep. Wiley Nickel (NC-13) told North State Journal at a town hall event his office doesn’t use TikTok and said there are concerns about online privacy that are bigger than the controversial social media app.

Speaking on Tuesday, April 11 at a church in the southern Wake County town of Holly Springs, Nickel spoke for nearly an hour and took pre-submitted questions from those in the audience.

North State Journal caught up with Nickel at the event to ask about his position on TikTok. An ethics complaint was recently filed against him for his use of TikTok.

“On the official side we don’t have an account so we don’t use it in the congressional office. On the campaign side, we’ve got campaign folks who can answer questions. It’s just not something we do on the official side,” Nickel told North State Journal at the event.

“I think what we’ve got to do is talk about all the different social media (storing) data overseas. I don’t support that. I think we need a much broader conversation on the policy overall. TikTok is part of a bigger problem we have,” he continued.

That comment, however, runs contrary to the recent ethics complaint filed on April 5 by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT).

The nonpartisan watchdog alleges Nickel’s office has used the Chinese app to mix both official and campaign purposes.

In the complaint, the group says his TikTok account, in which his bio reads “Congressman for #NC13” and links to his campaign website, includes both campaign content (campaign events and interviews) and official content (video filmed in the Capitol and interviews filmed in a House Office Building), which are impermissible uses of official resources for political purposes.

Federal law and House ethics rules require strict separation between campaign and official acts. Members are prohibited from using official resources for campaign purposes and using campaign funds for official purposes.

Nickel and fellow Democratic Rep. Jeff Jackson (NC-14) have both been subject to complaints by FACT for their use of the app.

North State Journal reached out to Nickel’s office over the veracity of the ethics complaint and his use of social media.

“Let’s be clear, this complaint is nothing more than a mere messaging campaign being pursued to advance a purely partisan narrative against Democratic members of Congress,” Nickel told NSJ in a statement. “In Congress, I’m focused on putting aside the noise and addressing the most pressing issues facing the people of North Carolina’s 13th District. That’s where my focus is and where I’ll continue to be as a member of Congress.”

The Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent, non-partisan entity charged with receiving and reviewing allegations of misconduct, accepts submissions of information and determines whether a matter merits an investigation.

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Matt Mercer is the editor in chief of North State Journal and can be reached at [email protected].