Under Ethics Investigation: Reps. Meeks, Schmidt

July 1, 2011 12:19 pm

The House Ethics Committee is investigating Reps. Greg Meeks (D-NY) and Jean Schmidt (R-OH) on allegations that they violated House ethics rules.

The panel announced the probe Friday afternoon in a terse letter saying only that Reps. Jo Bonner (R-AL), the committee’s chairman, and Linda Sanchez (D-CA), its ranking member, have “jointly decided to extend matters” regarding Meeks and Schmidt.The committee did not give any hint to what the charges against the lawmakers entailed, but noted that the “mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee.”

The Office of Congressional Ethics, a quasi-governmental agency that conducts initial inquiries and makes recommendations to the full committee for further action, handed the panel its findings on Meeks and Schmidt May 18, 2011, according to the release.

The committee said it will announce “the course of action in these matters” on or before Aug. 16.

Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics In Washington filed a formal ethics complaint against Meeks last summer over allegations he failed to disclose $40,000 he received from a businessman in the state. Meeks repaid the $40,000 personal loan, but only after the FBI started looking into the transaction.

The OCE investigated Schmidt’s receipt of legal services from the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund, a Turkish-American interest group, according to a report in Roll Call.

The Ethics Committee also announced it was extending investigations into maters involving two staffers: Michael Collins and Greg Hill. Hill serves as chief of staff for Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), a members of the ethics panel.

“This is a payroll matter Mr. Hill believes he has corrected,” said McCaul spokesman Mike Rosen. “He is fully cooperating with the committee.”

TPM couldn’t immediately identify for which member Collins works.

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