Labrador’s Spokesman at Heart of McMorris Rodgers Ethics Case

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 28: U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) sits on a couch as she prepares for responding to President Barack Obama tonight's State of the Union address January 28, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. McMorris Rodgers, the chair of the House Republican Conference, was picked to deliver the response.
National Journal
Billy House
See more stories about...
Billy House
Feb. 6, 2014, 7:21 a.m.

The man at the cen­ter of a House eth­ics re­view in­volving Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence Chair­wo­man Cathy Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers is her own former press spokes­man, who now serves as com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ect­or for Rep. Raul Lab­rador.

At the heart of the eth­ics re­view is wheth­er Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers broke House rules by us­ing cam­paign funds to cov­er some of the costs of her in­tern­al GOP lead­er­ship race, something that former staffer Todd Winer, who left Mc­Mor­ris Ro­gers’s of­fice after the Wash­ing­ton state Re­pub­lic­an won her lead­er­ship post in 2012, has al­leged, sources say. Winer did not im­me­di­ately re­turn calls and an email Thursday.

“We’re fully co­oper­at­ing,” said Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers, who nar­rowly de­feated Rep. Tom Price to be­come the fourth-rank­ing Re­pub­lic­an in the House. It was just last week that Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers grabbed a slice of the na­tion­al spot­light when she gave the GOP re­sponse to the State of the Uni­on Ad­dress.

Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers’s law­yer and a spokes­man also re­leased pre­pared state­ments, vehe­mently deny­ing Winer’s al­leg­a­tions.

One source sym­path­et­ic to Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers, who did not want to be iden­ti­fied, said Winer was un­happy about not get­ting the job as the House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence com­mu­nic­a­tions dir­ect­or. The source claimed that he is known to have star­ted shop­ping his al­leg­a­tions around to re­port­ers and oth­ers last year.

After its look in­to the mat­ter, the in­de­pend­ent Of­fice of Con­gres­sion­al Eth­ics re­com­men­ded in Decem­ber that the House Eth­ics Com­mit­tee con­duct a full re­view of the case. The com­mit­tee is ex­pec­ted to an­nounce Thursday that it will take an­oth­er 45 days to re­view the mat­ter.

“We are con­fid­ent that every activ­ity was com­pli­ant with all fed­er­al laws, House rules, and stand­ards of con­duct. We are fully co­oper­at­ing and look for­ward to see­ing this mat­ter dis­missed,” Nate Hod­son, a spokes­man for Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers, said in a state­ment.

El­li­ot Berke, Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers’s at­tor­ney, took a swipe at the Of­fice of Con­gres­sion­al Eth­ics it­self.

“As has be­come an un­for­tu­nate rite of pas­sage for many mem­bers of Con­gress, the OCE reg­u­larly refers mat­ters to the House Eth­ics Com­mit­tee for fur­ther re­view. Such re­views are vir­tu­ally auto­mat­ic, and as the com­mit­tee al­ways points out, does not in­dic­ate that any vi­ol­a­tion has oc­curred, or re­flect any judg­ment on be­half of the Com­mit­tee,” said Berke, who is with the law firm McGuire Woods.

He ad­ded, “The con­gress­wo­man and her of­fice co­oper­ated fully with the OCE dur­ing its in­quiry and have already be­gun as­sist­ing the com­mit­tee with its re­view. We are con­fid­ent that the com­mit­tee will ul­ti­mately find that the al­leg­a­tions were base­less and that her of­fice al­ways fol­lowed all laws, rules, and stand­ards of con­duct.”

A spokes­wo­man for the OCE de­clined to com­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the OCE’s rules, to refer a mat­ter to the Eth­ics Com­mit­tee for fur­ther re­view, its board must con­clude after eval­u­at­ing all the evid­ence that there is “sub­stan­tial reas­on to be­lieve a vi­ol­a­tion has oc­curred.”

Wheth­er Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers and Lab­rador have talked about the mat­ter, or Winer, is un­clear. Price said Thursday he knew noth­ing about the in­vest­ig­a­tion, which was first re­por­ted by Politico.

What We're Following See More »
STAFF PICKS
These (Supposed) Iowa and NH Escorts Tell All
8 hours ago
NATIONAL JOURNAL AFTER DARK

Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:

  • Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
  • Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
  • They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
  • One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
Source:
STATE VS. FEDERAL
Restoring Some Sanity to Encryption
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
What the Current Crop of Candidates Could Learn from JFK
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Hillary Is Running Against the Bill of 1992
8 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”

Source:
STAFF PICKS
Trevor Noah Needs to Find His Voice. And Fast.
9 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”

Source:
×