‘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
Add to Briefcase
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 »
SAYS HIS DEATH STEMMED FROM A FISTFIGHT
Saudis Admit Khashoggi Killed in Embassy
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Saudi Arabia said Saturday that Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared more than two weeks ago, had died after an argument and fistfight with unidentified men inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Eighteen men have been arrested and are being investigated in the case, Saudi state-run media reported without identifying any of them. State media also reported that Maj. Gen. Ahmed al-Assiri, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and other high-ranking intelligence officials had been dismissed."

Source:
ROGER STONE IN THE CROSSHAIRS?
Mueller Looking into Ties Between WikiLeaks, Conservative Groups
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is scrutinizing how a collection of activists and pundits intersected with WikiLeaks, the website that U.S. officials say was the primary conduit for publishing materials stolen by Russia, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Mueller’s team has recently questioned witnesses about the activities of longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, including his contacts with WikiLeaks, and has obtained telephone records, according to the people familiar with the matter."

Source:
PROBING COLLUSION AND OBSTRUCTION
Mueller To Release Key Findings After Midterms
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Special Counsel Robert Mueller is expected to issue findings on core aspects of his Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections ... Specifically, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice." Mueller has faced pressure to wrap up the investigation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said an official, who would receive the results of the investigation and have "some discretion in deciding what is relayed to Congress and what is publicly released," if he remains at his post.

Source:
PASSED ON SO-CALLED "SAR" REPORTS
FinCen Official Charged with Leaking Info on Manafort, Gates
1 days ago
THE DETAILS
"A senior official working for the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has been charged with leaking confidential financial reports on former Trump campaign advisers Paul Manafort, Richard Gates and others to a media outlet. Prosecutors say that Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, a senior adviser to FinCEN, photographed what are called suspicious activity reports, or SARs, and other sensitive government files and sent them to an unnamed reporter, in violation of U.S. law."
Source:
FIRST CHARGE FOR MIDTERMS
DOJ Charges Russian For Meddling In 2018 Midterms
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming midterms. Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of 'Project Lakhta,' a foreign influence operation they said was designed 'to sow discord in the U.S. political system' by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and the National Football League national-anthem protests."

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