WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Ethics Committee is continuing an investigation of Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.
The committee announced on Friday it had received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative body, and said in a brief statement it would continue to look into Bachmann’s case. The committee says it will announce its course of action in September and notes that an extension does not in itself indicate an ethics violation.
A lawyer for Bachmann had previously acknowledged the investigation by the OCE and said that Bachmann was cooperating. That probe is focused in part on her short-lived presidential bid.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which was reviewing seven cases related to Bachmann’s campaign, sent all of them to the House Ethics Committee, an indication that they had “substantial reason” to believe that ethics violations had occurred.
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr’s brother Jonathan says the congressman will send House Speaker John Boehner a letter of resignation.
Jackson, 47, a South Side Democrat, has been treated for bipolar depression and has been on a medical leave from Congress since June. He has been under investigation by federal authorities for alleged misuse of campaign dollars and also has faced a congressional ethics probe.
A California congressman helped secure tax breaks for racehorse owners — then purchased seven horses for himself when the new rules kicked in.
A Wyoming congresswoman co-sponsored legislation to double the life span of federal grazing permits that ranchers such as her husband rely on to feed cattle.
Congress’s financial winners and losers: Most lawmakers — but not all — fared better than the average American in recent years.
And a Pennsylvania congressman co-sponsored a natural gas bill as Exxon Mobil negotiated a deal that paid millions for his wife’s shares in two natural gas companies founded by her great-great-grandfather.
Those lawmakers were among 73 members of Congress who have sponsored or co-sponsored legislation in recent years that could benefit businesses or industries in which either they or their family members are involved or invested, according to a Washington Post analysis. The findings emerge from an examination by The Post of financial disclosure forms and public records for all 535 members of the House and Senate.
The practice is both legal and permitted under the ethics rules that Congress has written for itself, which allow lawmakers to take actions that benefit themselves or their families except when they are the lone beneficiaries. The financial disclosure system Congress has implemented also does not require the legislators to identify potential conflicts at the time that they take official actions that intersect or overlap with their investments.
Members of Congress contact the House and Senate ethics offices thousands of times each year to seek legal advice on a range of activities, including their work on legislation that might pose a conflict. Between 2007 and 2011, lawyers for the two committees issued at least 2,800 written opinions to lawmakers, sent 6,500 e-mails containing advice and provided guidance over the phone 40,000 times, according to records kept by the two committees.
The committees rarely discipline their own, instead providing advisory opinions that generally give support and justification to lawmakers who take actions that intersect with their personal financial holdings, according to interviews with nearly a dozen ethics experts and government watchdog groups. And though Congress has required top executive branch officials to divest themselves of assets that may present a conflict, lawmakers have not asked the same of themselves.
Congressional ethics experts say reforms are needed.
Harvard public policy professor Dennis Thompson said lawmakers should refrain from having narrowly focused legislative agendas that align with their personal investments. Disclosure should also be broadened, he said, so the public is notified by a lawmaker of potential conflicts at the time they are taking official actions, including when bills are introduced.
“Ethics rules are supposed to make things clear and transparent,” Thompson said. “They should not require the public or the media to go digging around to make the connections.”
The legislators, in interviews and through spokesmen, said they saw no conflicts between their legislative actions and holdings. They added that they have a duty to advocate for their constituents, even when those interests align with their own.
The Office of Congressional Ethics is investigating the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee over possible violations of insider-trading laws, according to individuals familiar with the case.
Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), who holds one of the most influential positions in the House, has been a frequent trader on Capitol Hill, buying stock options while overseeing the nation’s banking and financial services industries.
The Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative agency, opened its probe late last year after focusing on numerous suspicious trades on Bachus’s annual financial disclosure forms, the individuals said. OCE investigators have notified Bachus that he is under investigation and that they have found probable cause to believe insider-trading violations have occurred.
The case is the first of its kind involving a member of Congress. It comes at a time of intense public scrutiny of congressional ethics, with the House passing legislation Thursday to tighten rules against insider trading by lawmakers. The impetus for the legislation, a version of which passed in the Senate a week earlier, came from a “60 Minutes” report and a book mentioning Bachus’s trades, “Throw Them All Out,” by Peter Schweizer.
“The Office of Congressional Ethics has requested information and I welcome this opportunity to present the facts and set the record straight,” Bachus said in a statement issued Thursday by his spokesman, Tim Johnson.
Washington (CNN) — Veteran Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel of New York confirmed Tuesday that his lawyers are discussing a possible settlement with lawyers for the House ethics committee that would avoid a public hearing this week on ethics allegations against him.
“Negotiations are much like the arc of legislative conferences, and that is until everything is agreed upon, there’s absolutely nothing agreed upon,” Rangel said while leaving the House floor after several votes.
He declined to talk about any details of the negotiations handled by his legal team, saying he was not participating in the talks himself.
Earlier, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said it was up to Rangel to decide whether to resign over the pending ethics allegations.
“Mr. Rangel has to do what Mr. Rangel believes is appropriate and proper,” Hoyer said, taking a neutral stance instead of offering support for the 20-term veteran of the House Democratic caucus that Hoyer leads.
Rangel gave up his chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee earlier this year because of the allegations he violated House rules by failing to disclose personal income and other acts.
The House ethics committee on Thursday will make public a report of Rangel’s alleged violations. After a nearly two-year investigation of Rangel, the committee’s report could bring a trial by a panel subcommittee in September.
Rangel acknowledged that the issue was having an impact on fellow House Democrats as they face congressional midterm elections this year.
“This is a very trying period not only for me but for the Congress and especially my Democratic colleagues,” Rangel said, adding that the issue was not personal but “very, very political.”
In his comments, Hoyer stressed that the formal ethics process should be allowed to continue and that it’s up to Rangel to decide whether he wants to settle the matter ahead of Thursday’s hearing.
“I think everyone would like to have it go away, in the sense that this is not a pleasant process,” Hoyer said, adding: “I don’t know what Mr. Rangel’s decision is going to be as to how far he’s going to pursue this, but he certainly has the