The House Ethics Committee on Wednesday said it has formally closed the books on its investigation into possible violations of House rules against former Rep. Trey Radel for his cocaine-possession conviction, sparking an outcry from a watchdog group that says there are still too many questions for the inquiry to be abandoned.
The committee described its decision to drop the matter as procedural. The joint announcement from Chairman Mike Conaway and ranking member Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., noted that with the freshman lawmaker’s resignation from Congress on Monday, an Ethics investigative subcommittee “no longer has jurisdiction over him.”
But not everyone is satisfied with that.
One outside government watch group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, raised questions this week about Radel’s sudden departure from Congress—and it says the ethics investigation should continue.
CREW had already filed a complaint with the separate Office of Congressional Ethics against Radel after his arrest and conviction in November, asserting that his conduct reflected discreditably upon the House.
Now the group is suggesting that its seems possible the House committee is closing the Radel case because it might have elicited damaging information about other members of Congress and congressional staff.
“It’s not as if the Republican leadership just learned of the cocaine bust over the weekend,” noted CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan in a statement.
Radel was caught buying drugs in Washington in a federal investigation on Oct. 29. But he was not formally charged until Nov. 19, and he pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge the next day, receiving one-year probation and a $250 fine.
Court documents say he bought 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover police officer in Washington’s Dupont Circle.
“Rep. Radel’s resignation is welcome, though overdue. The timing, however, is certainly suspicious,” said Sloan in the statement earlier this week. “Why now? It seems possible his resignation is intended to stymie the ethics investigation that might have elicited damaging information about other members of Congress and congressional staff.”
Sloan also noted that CREW has previously raised questions about who introduced the first-term lawmaker—who lived in Washington less than 10 months—to his drug dealer?
“Further, we know Rep. Radel shared his cocaine with others. Who, exactly? Given his short tenure in D.C., Rep. Radel most likely spent his free time with other members of Congress and Hill staff,” said Sloan.
“The congressman’s resignation should in no way derail the ethics investigation stemming from this incident,” she said.
What We're Following See More »
At the end of the debate, moderator Lester Holt asked Donald Trump if he stands by his statement that Hillary Clinton didn't have the look of a president. Trump responded by saying Holt misquoted him, instead saying that Clinton "doesn't have the stamina." Clinton responded by saying that when Trump visits 112 countries as secretary of state, he can talk to her about stamina.
Donald Trump, when pressed by Lester Holt on why he finally admitted that President Obama was born in America, repeated his widely debunked claim that it was started by Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton went point by point on how race can so often determine the treatment that people receive, mentioning recent shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte, calling for restored trust between communities and police, and demanding criminal justice reform. Trump responded by calling for law and order and touting his endorsements from police unions. He then said that “African Americans are living in hell,” saying they are just walking down the street and getting “shot ... being decimated by crime."
Just as Hillary Clinton was inviting debate viewers to visit her site for real-time fact checking, there appeared to be a problem with Donald Trump's own campaign website. For about a 15-minute period, a blank page or an error message appeared when we tried to load the Trump site.
Donald Trump has come out in the first segment of this debate raring to go. Trump has interrupted nearly every answer being given by Hillary Clinton, talking over her time and again. Clinton is sticking to her guns, smiling while Trump speaks and then calling on people to go to her website and see the fact checking being done.