Ethics Committee Will Continue to Look at 3 Cases

By Ap | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, September 11, 2013 | Go to article overview

Ethics Committee Will Continue to Look at 3 Cases


Ap, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House Ethics Committee said Wednesday it would continue to look into ethics investigations of Rep. Michele Bachmann and two other lawmakers. The committee also dismissed a potential case against Rep. John Tierney as "inconclusive."

The committee said it would take more time to examine cases referred to it by the outside Office of Congressional Ethics that involve Bachmann, R-Minn., and Reps. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., and Pete Roskam, R-Ill.

The committee stopped short of launching formal investigations into any of the lawmakers and noted in a joint statement from its chairman, Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, and the panel's top Democrat, California Rep. Linda Sanchez, that continuing an investigation "does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred."

The allegations against Bachmann surround her short-lived 2012 presidential campaign. Bishop's case is focused on a potential link between official actions and campaign donations, and Roskam's case concerns a trip he took to Taiwan. The case involving Tierney, D- Mass., was related to his financial disclosure reports.

The committee was required to declare its intentions for all four cases by Wednesday. It also was obligated to release the detailed investigative reports from OCE, which highlight why the lawmakers had been referred to the committee.

The OCE is an independent House panel run by a board of directors who are outside Congress, although some of them are former lawmakers. The OCE's investigative reports and recommendations for further investigation go to the member-run House Ethics Committee, the panel that decides whether rules were violated. The committee can then vote to continue investigations, launch its own formal investigations or dismiss cases outright.

OCE referred each of the investigations to Ethics Committee in June, recommending full investigations. In July, the House committee decided to take more time to look at each of the cases but was required to release OCE's investigative reports by Wednesday.

The reports offer the first detailed explanation for why each of the lawmakers was referred to the committee.

Bachmann's case centers on potential violations of federal campaign finance laws and House rules during her presidential campaign. In a statement released Wednesday, she denied wrongdoing.

"During my presidential campaign, I complied with all applicable laws and regulations, including House Ethics Rules," Bachmann said. "My campaign included experienced staff and advisers who, among other things, administered and managed the financial dealings of the campaign. My directive to them was clear and unequivocal: to be sure that the campaign complied with all relevant laws."

She said OCE's report "makes no finding that I or anyone on my campaign staff did anything to the contrary; it simply has referred certain matters to the committee responsible for reviewing these issues."

But the 79-page report concluded there was "substantial reason" to believe Bachmann violated campaign finance laws in a number of ways, including paying a top presidential campaign staffer with funds from her House political action committee. Bachmann either knowingly violated campaign finance laws or failed to properly supervise others, according to the OCE report, which portrayed a presidential campaign strapped for cash, with staffers often arguing among themselves and bumping up against ethical boundaries. …

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