GOP Ethics Chair: Ethics Office Would Take Info From A Tabloid

Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL) told a reporter for a newspaper in his home state that political realities kept House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) from shutting down the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which he said would begin an investigation “out of the National Enquirer.”Most members of Congress privately want OCE shut down, but people would have thought Boehner “was not serious when he said that we were going to have zero tolerance on ethical violations,” Bonner told the Press-Register.

Bonner’s chief concern was that, unlike the House Ethics Committee, OCE can start an investigation without one member of Congress lodging a complaint against against another member. Jon Steinman, the outgoing spokesman for OCE, told the newspaper that the group was “doing the job Congress asked us to do.”

Meanwhile, the newly appointed Democratic ranking member of the House Ethics Committee Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) is facing criticism because her chief of staff is Adam Brand, the son of top ethics lawyer Stan Brand, who has also represented her sister Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) in an ethics case which involved both women.

Brand, the well-known and widely-respected lawyer now handling the Maxine Waters ethics case, declined to comment on the criticism. He told TPM he hasn’t heard anything from the Ethics Committee about the Waters matter.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens and Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) told Politico that the relationship raises conflict-of-interest questions but is not enough to disqualify Sanchez from serving on the committee. She said it was a “bad choice” by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to appoint Sanchez.

Pelosi also named a fresh crop of Democrats to sit on the minority side of the panel: Reps. Mazie Hirono (HI), John Yarmuth (KY), Donna Edwards (MD) and Puerto Rican Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi.