Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 24, 2014

Posts in "Ethics"

April 22, 2014

Ethics Office: Unnamed House Member Under Investigation

dome 085 111913 445x296 Ethics Office: Unnamed House Member Under Investigation

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Office of Congressional Ethics reported Tuesday an unnamed House member is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

According to the three-page OCE quarterly report, which disclosed no member names, the Ethics Committee will release the name of a new member under investigation no later than Sunday — meaning the announcement will likely come by Friday.

The committee must either take an additional 45 days to consider the matter, which is standard for the Ethics Committee, or it must reveal that it has voted to empanel an investigative subcommittee.

Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 4:13 p.m.

April 9, 2014

Update: McAllister’s Request for FBI Probe One Option

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McAllister, as his family looks on, at his mock swearing-in last November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 10:18 a.m. | Rep. Vance McAllister’s Washington staff said Wednesday that asking the FBI to investigate the leak of a video that has landed the freshman congressman in an infidelity scandal is one of several options the Louisiana Republican is weighing.

The News Star, the congressman’s home-town newspaper in Monroe, La., reported that McAllister planned to send a letter Wednesday morning to Speaker John A. Boehner,  R-Ohio, asking that the FBI open an investigation into who leaked the surveillance camera video.

But the congressman’s communications director, Jennifer Dunagin, said the decision to appeal to the speaker has not yet been made.

“At this point, there has not been a letter sent to Speaker Boehner,” she told CQ Roll Call. “Right now, the congressman is exploring the option. This security breach is something that warrants an investigation, but how we go about doing that is yet to be determined.”

Read The News Star story here.

Related stories:

A Crash Course in Congressional Hanky-Panky

8 Things to Know About Rep.-Elect Vance McAllister

Vance McAllister Kissing Video Could Prompt Flood of GOP Challengers

April 8, 2014

As McAllister Skips Vote, Angry Husband Says His Family Is Destroyed

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McAllister, right, talks with Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., before McAllister’s swearing in last November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Vince McAllister missed another roll call vote in the House on Tuesday as fallout from his infidelity scandal continued to escalate, with the husband of the staffer involved in the caught-on-camera incident telling the media that he’s leaving his wife and accusing the congressman of destroying his family.

Heath Peacock told “Inside Edition” that the conservative freshman lawmaker, who ran for the northeast Louisiana seat as a devoted Christian father of five, is to blame for the problems in his marriage.

“He’s had a hand in not only turning my life upside down, but my son’s also. He doesn’t care. He thinks he’s untouchable,” Peacock said, according to a press release from the syndicated tabloid-news program. Full story

Cantor: McAllister Right to Apologize After Kissing Video

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(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said Tuesday that embattled Rep. Vance McAllister was right to apologize to his constituents, but did not say whether the freshman Louisiana lawmaker would face repercussions within the Republican Conference.

“I think that his constituents deserve an apology. [That’s] why he gave an apology,” Cantor said. “I’ve not had a chance to speak to the congressman, so I’m going to reserve further judgment on the question. I will say the American people deserve all the representatives here in Washington to hold to a very high standard of behavior.”

A video posted online Monday allegedly shows the congressman kissing a staffer in his Louisiana district office. McAllister issued an apology after the video appeared, but a wide field of would-be successors are already jockeying for consideration for the seat, should the 40-year-old lawmaker choose to step down.

Full story

McAllister Skips Votes After Kissing Video Blows Up

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McAllister, left, invited Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty to join him at the State of the Union address earlier this year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Vance McAllister, embroiled in a scandal over a video allegedly showing the married Republican kissing an employee, did not vote when the House reconvened Monday night.

The Louisiana Republican was among 36 lawmakers who did not cast votes on the Budget and Accounting Transparency Act, which had two roll calls Monday night around 7 p.m. when the House returned from the weekend.

McAllister earlier in the day had issued a short statement apologizing and asking for privacy for his family, but didn’t show up for votes and his office door in the Cannon Building was locked. Phone calls to the office went straight to voicemail.

The lights inside were on, but no one so much as opened the door for hours, despite reporters camping out there for a stakeout.

Full story

April 7, 2014

McAllister, Caught on Tape With Staffer, Asks for ‘Forgiveness’

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McAllister and his family at the Republican’s mock swearing-in last November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Freshman Rep. Vance McAllister, a conservative Louisiana Republican who was sworn-in five months ago, asked for privacy for his children and forgiveness from constituents Monday, acknowledging the validity of a video showing him kissing one of his employees.

In a short statement issued a few hours after the Ouachita Citizen, a West Monroe, La., newspaper posted what appeared to be surveillance video, McAllister gave no indication he would resign.

“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness,” McAllister said in a statement. “I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether your a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed.”

Full story

April 4, 2014

Jim Moran, John Boehner Sought Congressional Pay Raise Reform as Freshmen

moran001 080191 445x291 Jim Moran, John Boehner Sought Congressional Pay Raise Reform as Freshmen

(Maureen Keating/Roll Call File Photo)

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in Roll Call on Aug. 5, 1991. We discovered it when looking for archival photos of Rep. James P. Moran, who made headlines by telling CQ Roll Call reporter Hannah Hess that members of Congress are “underpaid.” Moran, actually one of Congress’ poorest members, is retiring instead of seeking a 13th term.

Turns out Moran was among a group of freshmen calling for pay raise changes in an effort spearheaded by now-Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio. (The effort was successful. The 27th Amendment was ratified a year later, in 1992.) The caption on the photo caught our attention and is priceless. It reads: Some 35 of this year’s 45 House freshmen are calling for changes in the way Congress works. They’re doing it now, they say, before they get co-opted by the system themselves. At a Thursday press conference (from left) Reps. Larry LaRocco, Jim Moran and Rick Santorum.

Full story as it appeared on page 3 nearly 23 years ago below.

Freshmen Ask Limit on Pay-Raise Power Of Congress as Part of Broader Reforms

By Karen Foerstel

Three-quarters of House freshmen have signed onto a resolution to limit the pay-raise authority of Congress.

The move is part of a broader effort by 35 of the 48 freshmen in the Class of 1990 to reform the way Congress works. They say they want to act now — before they themselves become entrenched in the system.

Full story

‘Underpaid’ Jim Moran One of the Poorest Members of Congress

moran 030 030114 445x296 Underpaid Jim Moran One of the Poorest Members of Congress

(By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. James P. Moran, who has sparked a national debate after saying that lawmakers on Capitol Hill are “underpaid,” is one of the poorest members of Congress after decades in office and a host of financial troubles over the years.

Moran’s latest financial disclosure statement lists a single reportable financial asset to his name — a money market account with $1,000 to $15,000. He doesn’t list any liabilities.

In fact, Moran has been pulling down a second job of sorts, making $10,000 in 2012 for teaching at George Mason University.

He’s not quite poor enough to land him on this year’s Top 10 ‘Poorest’ list, however.

The longtime appropriator has had plenty of financial difficulties in the past — but has at times been a millionaire too, thanks to marriage.

(Related: Jim Moran, John Boehner Sought Congressional Pay Raise Reform as Freshmen)

Moran in 2004 described himself as “the poorest member of Congress” after he racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses from options trading. Full story

By Steven Dennis Posted at 2:35 p.m.

March 24, 2014

McMorris Rodgers Won’t Immediately Face Full Ethics Probe

The House Ethics Committee declined to broaden its probe of Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., but said it will continue reviewing allegations that she improperly co-mingled campaign and official funds, the panel announced Monday.

The committee’s announcement means it can empanel an investigative subcommittee at a later date if it sees fit, but faces no deadline by which to do so. At the same time, the committee for the first time released a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics detailing in full the allegations against the GOP leader, along with a rebuttal from her lawyer.

“There is substantial reason to believe that Representative McMorris Rodgers used congressional funds, staff, and office space for campaign activities,” “used a campaign media consultant to perform official duties” and “improperly combined congressional resources and campaign resources to produce a mailing and video for her leadership race,” the OCE report states. Full story

By Daniel Newhauser Posted at 6:52 p.m.

Pelosi Brings George Miller Back to the Steering and Policy Committee

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is reinstalling fellow California Democrat George Miller as co-chairman of the Steering and Policy Committee, a Democratic leadership aide confirmed to CQ Roll Call on Monday evening.

Miller, now the ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, is retiring at the end of this year after four decades in Congress. He replaces Rep. Robert E. Andrews, D-N.J., who resigned last month to take a job at a Philadelphia law firm amid an ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation. Miller will serve as co-chairman alongside another Pelosi ally, Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.

 ”With only six months left in this session, the Leader felt it was best for someone who knows the job to be in the role,” said a Pelosi aide.

Miller stepped aside at the start of the 113th Congress to allow for new some new blood at the top of the Steering and Policy Committee, which is responsible for doling out committee assignments and advising party leaders on a range of issues.

Pelosi’s decision to bring her close friend back into the fold might surprise some colleagues who expected the lawmaker to use the open slot to elevate some younger Democrat with ambitions to move up the leadership ranks, or at least a member who has been waiting in the wings for an opportunity to take on more responsibilities within the House Democratic Caucus.

Mullin Facing Ethics Inquiry for Plumbing Business Ties

Freshman Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., might have collected outside earnings in 2013 that exceeded the cap for sitting members of Congress as he maintained a relationship with his business that he was supposed to largely sever upon being elected to office, the House Ethics Committee divulged on Monday.

The bipartisan panel announced that it would continue to review whether Mullin violated House rules before determining whether to launch an official investigation.

In making that announcement, the committee also released the findings of a 66-page report detailing, for the first time, the charges Mullin faces. That report was prepared by the quasi-independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which conducted the preliminary investigation before referring the case to the standing committee of House lawmakers.

In addition to questioning whether Mullin earned a $600,000 salary through his long-held, Oklahoma-based plumbing business — exceeding the legal limit of $26,955 as a member of the House — the OCE recommended that the Ethics Committee probe whether Mullin violated chamber rules by endorsing his business’s services in TV, radio and internet advertisements. Full story

March 20, 2014

House Ethics Reviewing Gutierrez Contract With Illinois Lobbyist (Updated)

Updated 5:10 p.m. | The House Ethics Committee is reviewing alleged violations by Illinois Democrat and leading immigration overhaul advocate Luis V. Gutiérrez, the bipartisan panel announced in a statement Thursday.

The case centers on Doug Scofield, a former Gutierrez chief of staff and Illinois lobbyist that USA Today reported had a long-standing contract with Gutierrez’s office until Gutierrez cancelled the contract last year, according to a source familiar with the case.

The source said Scofield does not lobby on federal issues. The question for the Ethics Committee appears to be whether Gutierrez violated restrictions on consultant contracts under the rules.

USA Today reported that Scofield’s contract was to ”train staff, review and draft press releases, and help publicize [his] activities among other things.”

Under House Ethics rules, it would be kosher for Scofield to be a “contractor” rather than a “consultant,” whom only committees can employ. Gutierrez’s office insists that Scofield was a contractor, the source told CQ Roll Call.

From the House Ethics Manual:

Members may contract with firms or individuals only for general, non-legislative and non-financial, office services (e.g., equipment maintenance, systems integration, data entry, staff training, photography, custodial services, web services) for a specified time period not to exceed the Member’s current term. Such contracts are reimbursable. Such contractors are not employees of the House and are ineligible for government-provided personnel benefits.

Gutierrez spokesman Douglas G. Rivlin emphasized that the contract had been reviewed and approved every year.

“The (Office of Congressional Ethics) referral to the House Committee on Ethics relates to whether a long-standing contract was allowable under House rules. The contract for services was reviewed and approved by the House of Representatives and submitted for renewal each Congress for 10 years. It was consistently and properly reported. Rep. Gutiérrez cancelled the contract last year.

“Rep. Gutiérrez cooperated fully with the OCE during its review and will continue to do so with the Committee. As the Committee has noted, an OCE referral does not indicate that any violation has occurred or reflect a judgment on behalf of the Committee.”

As is customary, the committee did not divulge its line of inquiry into Gutiérrez, other than to say that it was continuing to review the matter and would announce its next steps on or before May 5.

“The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee,” Ethics Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and ranking member Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif., said in their joint statement, employing the boilerplate rhetoric of the panel.

Gutierrez was initially the subject of an investigation by the quasi-independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which probes members’ alleged misconduct first and then refers cases to the standing committee of Republicans and Democrats for its review and last word.

USA Today reported earlier this week that the lawmaker has racked up significant legal fees in preparation to defend himself.

By Emma Dumain Posted at 3:45 p.m.
Democrats, Ethics

March 13, 2014

Ethics Committee Gets New Staff Director

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Conaway had plenty of praise for Rust. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Ethics Committee announced a major staffing decision Thursday, with a longtime committee staffer becoming the staff director and chief counsel.

Tom Rust, who has served in a number of roles on the Ethics panel since 2009 — including as a nonpartisan staff attorney, a member of several units on the committee, and as interim staff director and chief counsel — fills the shoes of former staff director and chief counsel Dan Schwager, who left last November. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 4:06 p.m.

March 7, 2014

Alan Grayson Will Not Face Charges in Marital Spat

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(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Alan Grayson will not face charges after a marital spat devolved into accusations of domestic abuse earlier this month.

The Florida Democrat was accused by his wife, Lolita Grayson, of shoving her during an argument at her home. Grayson denied the allegation and cast doubt on his wife’s mental state.

On Friday, the Orange County Police Department announced it would not file charges against the congressman, according to Grayson’s office.

“Today the Orange County Sheriff’s Department confirmed what we have known all along: Congressman Grayson did nothing wrong. We are relieved that this ridiculous ordeal is over, and that the congressman can continue to focus on taking care of his family and serving his constituents,” said Grayson spokeswoman Lauren Doney.

March 6, 2014

House Votes to Table Resolution Condemning Darrell Issa

Hours after the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus introduced a resolution condemning Rep. Darrell Issa, Republicans shelved it.

The House on Thursday voted 211-186, on a party line vote, to table the privileged resolution that would have implicated the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee with violating “Clause 1 of Rule XXIII of the Code of Official Conduct, which states that ‘A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, Officer or Employee of the House shall behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”

Ten members voted “present,” including most members of the ethics committee and Issa.

On Wednesday, the California Republican shut off the microphone of ranking member Elijah E. Cummings as the Maryland Democrat sought to ask a procedural question and make general remarks following IRS official Lois Lerner’s refusal to participate in panel proceedings.

Issa said the committee had already adjourned and Cummings only wanted a chance to “launch into a diatribe,” while Cummings and House Democrats said Issa’s behavior was unbefitting of a committee chairman and disrespectful to the panel’s senior Democrat.

CBC Chairwoman Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, who introduced the resolution condemning Issa, also submitted a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, on Thursday asking that Issa be removed from his chairmanship for his treatment of Cummings, also a CBC member.

But Boehner backed the chairman.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., made the motion to table the privileged resolution.

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