With all the allegations flying about harassment, both the House Ethics Committee sent a letter and the Senate Ethics committee sent a letter to the Office of Compliance requesting all records of harassment that they have on file or any other complaints that they might have so that the committee can clear up all allegations as soon as possible.
So why did it take this long for the Ethics Committees to start looking into things they should already have been on top of? Why didn’t the Office of Compliance make them aware of any issues? Simple — it hadn’t been smeared across the news. What has not been acknowledged can be ignored, swept under the rug, or possibly deliberately withheld.
These are the cases currently open/closed.
House Ethics Committee:
Representative Blake Farenthold came under review in 2015 when allegations surfaced that he was being sued for sexually harassing a former member of his staff, discriminating against her on the basis of her gender, and retaliating against her for complaining of discriminatory conduct, and allegations that Representative Farenthold made inappropriate statements to other members of his official staff. The committee requested court documents but some were unavailable during their first investigation. That lawsuit was subsequently dismissed on November 18, 2015, after the parties entered a confidential settlement.
Case Reopened – Over the last two weeks, more information has been disclosed about the nature of the settlement between the parties. In addition, both Representative Farenthold and the Complainant have publicly expressed an interest in increased transparency in this matter. In light of these developments, the Committee has determined that it is appropriate to establish an Investigative Subcommittee to continue its investigation.
Rep. Trent Franks has also had an investigation opened as of December 7, 2017. It is alleged that he engaged in conduct that constitutes sexual harassment and/or retaliation for opposing sexual harassment, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct.
Rep. Nunes has been under investigation since April 6. 2017 when the committee became aware of public allegations that Representative Devin Nunes may have made unauthorized disclosures of classified information, in violation of House Rules, law, regulations, or other standards of conduct. The Committee sought the analysis of Representative Nunes’s statements by classification experts in the intelligence community. Based solely on the conclusion of these classification experts that the information that Representative Nunes disclosed was not classified, the Committee will take no further action and considers this matter closed.
Rep. Conyers’ case was opened Nov. 21, 2017. As we know he has decided to resign.
Rep. Chris Collins’ case was opened on July 7, 2017. It was alleged that he may have shared material nonpublic information in the purchase of Innate stock and may have also purchased discounted Innate stock that was not available to the public and that was offered to him based on his status as a Member of the House. Considering their preliminary findings, the board decided that there was reason to investigate further to determine if any of the allegations were applicable. His legal counsel replied to the allegations in August explaining his side of the issue. No further information has come out about this the recommendation in October to pursue the investigation.
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez came under scrutiny after he was arrested during a protest outside the White House on August 15, 2017. Apparently, the board saw no problem with his antics and decided to close his investigation.
Delegate Bordallo was accused of receiving profit for a house rental in Guam from a foreign government; may have received free lodging, meals, and amenities; may have used official funds at a resort; and may have used her congressional staff to perform personal services. While the board stated they could find no evidence of the use of staff for personal services, they did recommend further investigation into the rest of the allegations.
Michael Collins, the Chief of Staff to Rep. John Lewis allegedly received more than his allowed income from being a manager in Rep. Lewis’s 2015 campaign according to the Ethics committee information. Their findings in August 2017 noted there was substantial reason to believe that Mr. Collins received more than $27,255.00 in compensation from the campaign committee in 2015 so the investigation is ongoing.
Senate Ethics Committee:
The Senate Ethics committee has had a five year dry spell of looking into ethics complaints. It got broken in November when they were forced to pursue the following two investigations.
Senator Robert Menendez – In 2012, the Committee initiated a preliminary inquiry into alleged misconduct by Menendez. In early 2013, in consideration of the Department of Justice’s criminal investigation, the Committee deferred its inquiry. In 2015 he was charged with 14 counts, including conspiracy to commit bribery and honest services fraud, in connection with his relationship with Salomon Melgen, a Florida ophthalmologist and political donor.
Oddly any reference to the original information noting investigation in 2012-2015 does not appear in their lists of investigations. Secondly just as oddly with only a terse statement, the Committee intends to resume its process of investigation even though his trial ended in a mistrial. Perhaps this is to clear up the matter in the Senate committee.
Senator Al Franken had a case opened on November 30, 2017 for allegations of sexual harassment. The committee issued a press release confirming that it had opened a preliminary inquiry into Senator Franken’s alleged misconduct.” This is a departure from their normal policies.
Isn’t it interesting how when a public spotlight is shed on the ethics of congress members, suddenly Ethics Committees find a need to pursue with “vigor” any allegations already held by Office of Compliance?
Even the normally dormant Senate Ethics committee has been forced to acknowledge and pursue allegations. Geez will wonders never cease. They have acted for years like there was no one in the Senate who ever did anything wrong. Yet we have had complaints from the public or legal actions over the years on more than one senator that could and should have been brought up before their committee.
For instance, Senator John Edwards’ name did not appear in their list of investigations in 2011 even though he was indicted and later found not guilty. Or Senator Crapy who was arrested for drunk driving in 2012. How about John McCain…he has been entangled in enough controversies to warrant an investigation on more than one occasion and issue yet has managed to wiggle out of any attempts to have him brought to justice. Or Harry Reid who definitely should have come under ethics investigation on more than one occasion. How about Elizabeth Warren or other current members who are determined to encourage bad public behavior, obstruct justice, and bog down procedures, shouldn’t they also be held accountable?
I realize that the House has more to police but there is no way that the Senate could go for so many years without a single allegation or senator under suspicion. The odds are simply against it. If the committees are incapable of handling the policing of their houses then those committees need to be disbanded or better policies provided to have members held accountable for their activities. It is definitely time to hold all congressional members accountable for more ethical and lawful behavior.
However, how does one allow a member of a wolf pack to “investigate” other members? Shouldn’t this be the job of an independent IG Department for Congress?