House Ethics Committee
August 9, 2017
On May 11, 2017, the Committee on Ethics received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) regarding Representative John Conyers, Jr. The Chairwoman and Ranking Member jointly decided on June 26, 2017, to extend the Committee’s review of the matter by August 8, 2017. Yesterday’s press release said that further review is needed.
In the case of Rep. Conyers, the referral involved possible payments to his Chief of Staff above her level of compensation which might be against House rules and the law.
The Committee notes as always the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.
A press release also dated August 8, 2017 for Michael Collins was also issued. It was in reference to allegations that Collins may have received compensation for a campaign consultation that may have been a violations of ethics and laws for senior staff. The Ethics Committee decided to look into the allegations further.
The press release for Representative Lujan dated August 1, 2017, stated the committee after reviewing all the information could find no wrongdoing by Rep. Lujan. OCE reviewed allegations that Representative Luján violated laws, House rules, and other standards of conduct by (1) improperly conducting campaign or political activity from the floor of the House of Representatives; (2) improperly soliciting campaign contributions from a federal building; and (3) improperly using an image of a House of Representatives floor proceeding for campaign and political purposes.
While in this instance they found no real evidence, the Ethics Committee did send a word of caution to House of Representative members that a Member’s campaign committee or consultants may release campaign correspondence on the Member’s behalf at any time, regardless of where the Member is.
However, Members were reminded that, subject to very limited exceptions, they may not conduct campaign or political activity from a House building or anywhere on House property whether hallway, office, or cafeteria, and thus, they may not draft, edit, or send campaign communications, or direct the drafting, editing, or sending of such communications, from a House building.
The Ethics Committee is rather fascinating all in all. They have jurisdiction over all bills, resolutions and other matters relating to the Code of Official Conduct and generally don’t act without having had a complaint filed. While they are not a court, they do research and consider evidence presented. If further criminal or violations occur then they have the power to request an investigation by agencies like FEC and the FBI. The House Ethics Committee perhaps because it serves a larger body always seems to have one or two investigations percolating.
That said, I certainly have to wonder why the House of Representatives has not already had at least one Ethics Violation Referral on Debbie Wassermann Schultz in 2016 for being the DNC chairman. Given last year’s DNC debacle and everything since then, one would think that she would have already been called on the carpet for several incidents.
Tim Kaine served as DNC 52nd chair according to Joe Biden at Obama’s request. Anyone have an idea why an active House of Representative member gets away with chairing a national political party? Dumb question of course – Democrats make their own rules…….
Somehow I seriously doubt that the actions between the DNC and an active congress member would be either ethical or allowed since I know others like Representative Lujan got called on the carpet for just the possibility of impropriety as you saw above. Wouldn’t having high clearance and knowledge of current events preclude the allowance of a congress member to hold ANY party high level management or active campaign position?
Wonder if DWS received compensation or a salary for being DNC chair? Now that would have to be a violation surely. Hmm seems Rep. Buchanan got in a whole passel of trouble in 2016 for unauthorized outside as well as undisclosed payments among other things.
Also, Rep. Nunez was referred to committee but oddly has not had a press release since the initial April press release. One would have though he would have appeared in the August batch of press releases at least since the ones mentioned above showed up for the first time in May less than a month after the initial complaint…see fascinating….