Two representatives may have committed House ethics violations

Alec Jacobs Contributor
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The U.S. House Ethics Committee confirmed Friday evening that it is looking into possible ethics violations by two representatives, Roll Call reports.

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) investigated Rep. Jean Schmidt, an Ohio Republican, for receiving legal assistance from a Turkish-American interest group. A Democrat hoping to unseat Schmidt filed a number of complaints against the congresswoman, claiming the services were provided for free, violating House rules.

Schmidt’s attorney confirmed that the congresswoman was under investigation. Though the OCE referred the case to the House Ethics Committee, Roll Call writes that it’s unclear whether the new investigation stems from the complaints filed by Schmidt’s opponent.

The other investigation is of Rep. Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat. The OCE investigated Meeks for supposedly omitting information from financial disclosure forms, including the fact that his wife had been paid by a public relations firm and a New York City university. Members of Congress are supposed to disclose the source — but not the amount — of spousal income.

The House Ethics Committee released a statement confirming that the possible ethics violations are being looked into.

“The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or extension … does not indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee,” the statement read to emphasize the fact that just because the OCE refers a case to the Ethics Committee doesn’t necessarily mean a rule has been violated.

(Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson could face jail time for ethics violations)

Meeks’ office was happy with the statement: “I’m pleased that the Ethics Committee went on record to say that the mere fact of the OCE referral does not suggest that any violation occurred,” his office said.

Meeks’ statement continued, “I am confident the Committee will find that the OCE referral merits no further review. I will respect the Committee’s process and withhold my comments until it completes its work.”

The House Ethics Committee will announce on or before August 16 whether it will proceed with formal investigations of the violations.

Alec Jacobs