House Ethics Panel Confirms Investigations of Rush, Whitfield

Whitfield: Poised to pounce on EPA.
Billy House
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Billy House
July 25, 2014, 10:33 a.m.

Without provid­ing de­tails, House Eth­ics watch­dogs con­firmed Thursday they are re­view­ing sep­ar­ate mat­ters in­volving wheth­er Reps. Bobby Rush of Illinois and Ed Whit­field of Ken­tucky vi­ol­ated House rules.

Rush, a Demo­crat, him­self ac­know­ledged in a pub­lished re­port in April in the Chica­go Sun-Times that he was un­der scru­tiny over spend­ing from his cam­paign fund and the hand­ling of a $1 mil­lion grant.

And pub­lished ac­counts, be­gin­ning with a story late last year by Politico, have ques­tioned Re­pub­lic­an Whit­field’s sup­port of con­tro­ver­sial an­im­al-wel­fare le­gis­la­tion pushed by his wife, a re­gistered lob­by­ist with the Hu­mane So­ci­ety of the United States. The group’s le­gis­lat­ive fund has donated at least $8,000 to Whit­field since 2011, when his wife began lob­by­ing for it, ac­cord­ing to the pub­lished re­ports.

In a state­ment, Whit­field re­spon­ded that he was “dis­ap­poin­ted that people with a fin­an­cial in­terest in pending le­gis­la­tion have filed a com­plaint against me for my work on be­half of an­im­als.” He did not ex­plain fur­ther, but thanked the com­mit­tee for not­ing in its an­nounce­ment that ‘“the mere fact of a re­fer­ral … does not it­self in­dic­ate that any vi­ol­a­tion has oc­curred, or re­flect any judg­ment on be­half of the Com­mit­tee.”

“As a re­luct­ant par­ti­cipant in this pro­cess, I, too, will re­frain from mak­ing any fur­ther pub­lic com­ments un­til such time as the Com­mit­tee de­term­ines pub­lic state­ments are ap­pro­pri­ate,” Whit­field said.

Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment from the House Eth­ics Com­mit­tee was the first of­fi­cial con­firm­a­tion that he and Rush were both be­ing scru­tin­ized by the pan­el. The joint state­ment by the com­mit­tee chair­man, Mike Con­away, and the pan­el’s top Demo­crat, Linda Sanc­hez, said the cases were both re­ferred by the Of­fice of Con­gres­sion­al Eth­ics on June 10.

A spokes­wo­man for the OCE, which serves as an in­de­pend­ent watch­dog that serves as an ini­tial vet­ter of eth­ics com­plaints, would not com­ment on its find­ings be­hind the re­fer­rals, provided in re­ports to the Eth­ics Com­mit­tee.

Un­der House rules, the Eth­ics Com­mit­tee now has un­til Nov. 10 to de­cide wheth­er it will ex­pand the two re­views by em­pan­el­ing spe­cial in­vest­ig­at­ive sub­com­mit­tees. These sub­pan­els would form­ally con­sider wheth­er the two law­makers broke House rules and, if so, pos­sibly re­com­mend pun­ish­ment. 

Neither Whit­field’s nor Rush’s of­fice had any im­me­di­ate com­ment Fri­day.

But news of the Rush probe came after the a Sun-Times/Bet­ter Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­ation in­vest­ig­a­tion late last year re­por­ted that he used cam­paign funds for the Be­loved Com­munity Chris­ti­an Church, where he is a min­is­ter and that he did not re­port rent pay­ments for his cam­paign of­fice, pos­sible eth­ics vi­ol­a­tions.

The Sun-Times/BGA re­port also ques­tioned what had be­come of a $1 mil­lion grant that Rush helped se­cure from tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions firm SBC to launch a tech cen­ter in Chica­go. The re­port said it was un­clear where the money went, and that the tech cen­ter has not ma­ter­i­al­ized. Rush was quoted as telling the news­pa­per “every penny of that money went to­ward pro­grams for the Engle­wood com­munity.”

Whit­field, in the Politico story in Decem­ber, de­fen­ded the in­ter­ac­tion between his con­gres­sion­al du­ties and his wife’s lob­by­ing—and said that any­one who doesn’t like it can file an eth­ics com­plaint against him.

What We're Following See More »
TO BE VOTED ON NEXT MONTH
Pai Officially Announces Intent to Scrap Net Neutrality Rules
2 hours ago
THE LATEST
SAYS HE’S UNAWARE OF ACCUSATIONS
Conyers Denies Settling Harassment Claims
3 hours ago
THE LATEST
SPEAKER SAYS IN LETTER
Mugabe Resigns, Ending Impeachment Debate
3 hours ago
THE LATEST
HAITIANS TO BE MOST AFFECTED
White House to End TPS Program
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Trump administration is ending a humanitarian program that has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since an earthquake ravaged their country in 2010, Homeland Security officials said on Monday. Haitians with what is known as Temporary Protected Status will be expected to leave the United States by July 2019 or face deportation. ... About 320,000 people now benefit from the Temporary Protected Status program, which was signed into law by President George Bush in 1990."

Source:
MAKES PERMANENT A PREVIOUS INJUNCTION
Federal Judge Blocks Sanctuary Cities Order
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked President Donald Trump's executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities. U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick rejected the administration's argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress. The judge had previously made the same arguments in a ruling that put a temporary hold on the executive order."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login