(CNS News) -- Seven liberal Democrats in the U.S. Senate have called for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation of conservative Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), alleging that their challenge to some of the state electoral votes in the presidential election and their stated concerns about election integrity may have helped fuel the violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
They also want to know whether Cruz and Hawley coordinated in any way with the "Save America" rally on Jan. 6, or "took any action that encouraged the insurrectionists’ actions, and whether the insurrectionists cited Senators Hawley or Cruz as part of their rationale for storming the Capitol."
In their Jan. 21 letter to the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, the seven Democrats write, "When Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley announced they would object to the counting of state certified electors on January 6, 2021, they amplified claims of election fraud that had resulted in threats of violence against state and local officials around the country."
"By proceeding with their objections to the electors after the violent attack [on Jan. 6], Senators Cruz and Hawley lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely," reads the letter.
"The question the Senate must answer is not whether Senators Hawley and Cruz had the right to the object to the electors, but whether the senators failed to '[p]ut loyalty to the highest moral principles and to country above loyalty to persons, party, or Government department' or engaged in 'improper conduct reflecting on the Senate' in connection with the violence on January 6," states the letter.
"The Senate Ethics Committee should investigate their conduct to fully understand their role," contend the Democrats. "The actions of which we know demand an investigation and a determination whether disciplinary action is warranted. Until then, a cloud of uncertainty will hang over them and over this body."
The letter concludes,"The Committee should also offer recommendations for strong disciplinary action, including up to expulsion or censure, if warranted by the facts uncovered."
On Jan. 6, on the Senate floor, Sens. Hawley and Cruz objected to the certification of electoral votes from Pennsylvania and Arizona. In all, seven GOP senators made objections, as did 138 Republican members in the House.
In response to the ethics complaint letter, Sen. Hawley said, "Joe Biden and the Democrats talk about unity but are brazenly trying to silence dissent. This latest effort is a flagrant abuse of the Senate ethics process and a flagrant attempt to exact partisan revenge."
"Democrats appear intent on weaponizing every tool at their disposal — including pushing an unconstitutional impeachment process — to further divide the country," said Hawley. "Missourians will not be cancelled by these partisan attacks."
A spokesman for Sen. Cruz told CNN that the Democrats are "playing political games by filing frivolous ethics complaints against their colleagues."
"Sen. Cruz debated a question of law and policy on the floor of the Senate, he did so expressly supported by 11 other Senators, and he utilized a process to raise the objection that has been explicitly authorized by federal law for nearly 150 years," said the spokesman, adding that "Cruz immediately condemned the January 6th terrorist attack on the Capitol, calling for everyone who stormed the Capitol to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
The seven Democrats who sent the letter to the Ethics Committee are Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.), Tina Smith (Minn.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Ron Wyden (Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), and Tim Kaine (Va.).