Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Vitter Files Expanded Ethics Complaint Against Reid, Boxer

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. David Vitter filed another complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee Thursday, alleging Democratic misconduct in crafting an amendment that appeared to directly target him — just two days after the panel dismissed his initial complaint.

The Louisiana Republican has repeatedly charged that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer — Vitter’s partner atop the Environment and Public Works Committee — improperly floated an amendment that would have restricted the ability of members of Congress to access health care exchange benefits if they had engaged in prostitution. The strike against Vitter, who was linked to the D.C. Madam investigation, appeared to be in retaliation for an amendment to an energy efficiency bill that would cut off employer contributions for members’ and staffers’ health care.

“This outrageous episode just shows how far Harry Reid and company will go to protect their Obamacare exemption. Well I have news for them: I’m not going away and this issue isn’t going away,” Vitter said in a statement.

Vitter’s new, 20-page ethics complaint offers what the Louisiana Republican believes to be substantive evidence linking the Democrats to the amendment language, including a series of news articles and an email exchange between a Politico reporter and Vitter’s communications director.

In dismissing Vitter’s original complaint, the Ethics Committee declared there was not enough evidence or information to back Vitter’s claims and questioned the jurisdiction of the panel over the issue. The amendment in question was never introduced.

“The committee has previously concluded that mere allegations, with no evidence or information to support their substantive merit, are insufficient to extend the Committee’s investigative process,” wrote Ethics Chief Counsel and Staff Director John Sassaman.

UPDATE: Boxer’s office issued a statement in response to the new claim: “The Ethics Committee has already rejected Senator Vitter’s baseless complaint. This whole matter has gone from bizarre to surreal. I believe a Senator using the Ethics Committee to launch political attacks is unprecedented and outrageous.”

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