‘Full Cooperation’ Challenged in McMorris Rodgers Ethics Case

But the congresswoman’s attorney predicts the case will ultimately be dropped.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 05: U.S. House Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) listens during a briefing March 5, 2014 at the headquarters of the Republican National Committee in Washington, DC. House Republicans briefed members of the media after a closed conference meeting.
National Journal
Billy House
March 24, 2014, 5:16 p.m.

An in­de­pend­ent eth­ics watch­dog pan­el says two key fig­ures did not co­oper­ate fully with its in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to wheth­er House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence Chair Cathy Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers breached the cham­ber’s stand­ards of con­duct in her suc­cess­ful 2012 GOP lead­er­ship race.

On Monday, the House Eth­ics Com­mit­tee an­nounced it will con­tin­ue weigh­ing the ac­cus­a­tions against Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers, the highest-rank­ing wo­man among House Re­pub­lic­ans, a po­ten­tial rough patch for a law­maker widely re­garded as a rising polit­ic­al star.

As part of its an­nounce­ment, the com­mit­tee re­leased a re­port com­piled by the in­de­pend­ent Of­fice of Con­gres­sion­al Eth­ics, which con­duc­ted an ini­tial re­view, that provides new in­sight in­to the case.

At the heart of the mat­ter is wheth­er Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers, of Wash­ing­ton state, vi­ol­ated an ob­scure House rule against com­ming­ling cam­paign and tax­pay­er-fun­ded re­sources when she won the chair­man’s job in a close race against Rep. Tom Price of Geor­gia. The case is based largely on ac­cus­a­tions from Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers’s former press sec­ret­ary, Todd Winer, who now works in the of­fice of Rep. Raul Lab­rador, an Idaho Re­pub­lic­an.

El­li­ot Berke, an at­tor­ney for Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers, played down the Eth­ics Com­mit­tee’s de­cision to look fur­ther in­to the case. “As the re­cord shows, the Con­gress­wo­man and all oth­er staff mem­bers com­plied with all laws, House Rules and Stand­ards of Con­duct,” he said in a state­ment. In ad­di­tion, a writ­ten re­sponse to the OCE re­port notes: “The con­gress­wo­man and her staff co­oper­ated fully with all re­ques­ted in­ter­views and the pro­duc­tion of over 1,000 doc­u­ments.”

But in its re­port, OCE iden­ti­fied two key fig­ures in the case that it says re­fused to co­oper­ate fully, if at all, with its in­vest­ig­a­tion.

One is Patrick Bell, de­scribed in the re­port as the former dir­ect­or of new me­dia for Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers’s con­gres­sion­al of­fice.

OCE said that “in 2010 and 2012, he al­legedly traveled to Spokane, Wash­ing­ton, to per­form cam­paign activ­it­ies on of­fi­cial time. He also al­legedly com­bined ef­forts with cam­paign staff to pro­duce a pack­et and video for Rep­res­ent­at­ive Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers’ lead­er­ship race.

“The OCE re­ques­ted in­form­a­tion from Mr. Bell to de­term­ine wheth­er he im­prop­erly used of­fi­cial re­sources for cam­paign activ­ity and the lead­er­ship race,” OCE stated in its re­port. “Mr. Bell re­fused to co­oper­ate with the OCE.”

The re­port goes on to identi­fy Brett O’Don­nell, a com­mu­nic­a­tions con­sult­ant for Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers and the House Re­pub­lic­an Con­fer­ence, as re­ceiv­ing cam­paign funds to per­form work for the rep­res­ent­at­ive’s con­gres­sion­al of­fice.

“The OCE re­ques­ted in­form­a­tion from Mr. O’Don­nell to de­term­ine wheth­er Rep­res­ent­at­ive Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers im­prop­erly paid him with cam­paign funds,” the re­port says.

“Mr. O’Don­nell in­ter­viewed with the OCE and pro­duced doc­u­ments, but re­fused to cer­ti­fy that he provided a com­plete re­sponse to the Re­quest for In­form­a­tion…. Mr. O’Don­nell did not fully co­oper­ate with the OCE.”

Mc­Mor­ris Rodgers’s at­tor­ney said Monday that he ex­pects the Eth­ics Com­mit­tee will even­tu­ally drop the mat­ter. “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 in a state­ment.

He ad­ded: “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.

What We're Following See More »
‘PULLING A TRUMP’
GOP Budget Chiefs Won’t Invite Administration to Testify
13 hours ago
THE DETAILS

The administration will release its 2017 budget blueprint tomorrow, but the House and Senate budget committees won’t be inviting anyone from the White House to come talk about it. “The chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees released a joint statement saying it simply wasn’t worth their time” to hear from OMB Director Shaun Donovan. Accusing the members of pulling a “Donald Trump,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the move “raises some questions about how confident they are about the kinds of arguments that they could make.”

Source:
A DARK CLOUD OVER TRUMP?
Snowstorm Could Impact Primary Turnout
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

A snowstorm is supposed to hit New Hampshire today and “linger into Primary Tuesday.” GOP consultant Ron Kaufman said lower turnout should help candidates who have spent a lot of time in the state tending to retail politicking. Donald Trump “has acknowledged that he needs to step up his ground-game, and a heavy snowfall could depress his figures relative to more organized candidates.”

Source:
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
A Shake-Up in the Offing in the Clinton Camp?
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Anticipating a primary loss in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Hillary and Bill Clinton “are considering staffing and strategy changes” to their campaign. Sources tell Politico that the Clintons are likely to layer over top officials with experienced talent, rather than fire their staff en masse.

Source:
×