America

News Of Ethics Probes Rocks Washington

The ripple effects from The Washington Post's front-page eye-catcher that "dozens in Congress" are being investigated by the House ethics committee are starting to show.

Politico forecasts "an ethical dust storm that will empower the Republicans and could imperil efforts to get health care reform through the House next week."

The Atlantic Wire writes that "the investigations — as well as the leaked report — could have serious repercussions for the lawmakers targeted and for legislation attached to them."

The Post writes that:

The 22-page "Committee on Standards Weekly Summary Report" gives brief summaries of ethics panel investigations of the conduct of 19 lawmakers and a few staff members. It also outlines the work of the new Office of Congressional Ethics, a quasi-independent body that initiates investigations and provides recommendations to the ethics committee. The document indicated that the office was reviewing the activities of 14 other lawmakers. Some were under review by both ethics bodies.

The ethics committee — officially known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct — has issued a statement noting that:

At any one time, the Committee has dozens of matters regarding Members, Officers, and employees before it, including both investigations and requests for advice regarding House rules, financial disclosure, and travel, among other issues. No inference to any misconduct can be made from the fact that a matter is simply before the Committee.

The only names the committee wanted to publicly acknowledge yesterday were those of California Democrats Maxine Waters and Laura Richardson.

The Associated Press writes that "Waters came under scrutiny after former Treasury Department officials said she helped arrange a meeting between regulators and executives at OneUnited Bank last year without mentioning her husband's financial ties to the institution. ... The investigation also will determine whether Richardson received an impermissible gift or preferential treatment from a lender, 'relating to the foreclosure, recission of the foreclosure sale or loan modification agreement' for her Sacramento, Calif., property."

Update at 2:05 p.m. ET: Politico now writes that "seven members of the powerful House panel that handles the Pentagon's purse — and the lucrative earmarks inside — have been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, according to an internal ethics committee document obtained by The Washington Post. The list includes the names of the five most senior defense appropriators from the majority Democratic side — Reps. John Murtha, Norm Dicks, Peter Visclosky, Jim Moran and Marcy Kaptur — as well as the ranking Republican on the committee, Bill Young of Florida, and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), who is in the midst of a tough primary battle for the Senate seat being left open by retiring Sen. Sam Brownback."

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