The House Ethics Committee on Monday announced it will further investigate separate matters involving Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and freshman Rep. Markwayne Mullin.
The allegations involving McMorris Rodgers, of Washington, involve claims by her former press secretary that she violated an obscure House rule against comingling campaign and taxpayer resources in her race for conference chair in late 2012.
The matter involving Mullin, an Oklahoma Republican, seeks to resolve whether he violated House rules and received outside compensation in his first year in Congress as an officer or representative of Mullin Plumbing and affiliates.
The announcements from Ethics Chairman Michael Conaway of Texas and Ranking Democrat Linda Sanchez of California came with reports from the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent watchdog that referred the matters to the committee after doing initial reviews of both cases.
The committee could have dropped the cases, but instead chose to continue its review.
In a prepared statement, McMorris Rodgers's attorney, Elliot Berke, downplayed the news, saying the Ethics Committee simply needed more time to sift through the facts.
"We recognize the institutional constraints the Ethics Committee is under and understand it was unable to conduct a full review during this 90-day period. We remain confident that, in time, the committee will dismiss the complaint which was based on frivolous allegations from a single source—a former employee who then discredited himself by admitting to his own improper conduct," Berke said.
"Neither Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers nor any other staff members were aware of this conduct and countered all of the allegations with the facts: At no time did they improperly mix official and campaign resources," he added.
Mullin's office responded with an aggressive statement.
"This review—based on an anonymous complaint—is referring to whether we want citizen legislators or just professional politicians making laws that impact our jobs, our families, and our communities," Mullin said.
"The politicians said Dr. Tom Coburn couldn't deliver babies when he got elected to the U.S. Senate," he added. "Now they are trying to say that I shouldn't be involved in the family plumbing business that my wife and I have spent the last 17 years building.
"Apparently it's acceptable for members of Congress to own stock in companies we regulate in Congress, but somehow our plumbing company crosses some line. This is more of the kind of thing that leaves people scratching their heads and saying, 'Only in the government,' " Mullin said.
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