House ethics extends review of McMorris Rodgers
March 24th, 2014
11:10 PM ET
4 months ago

House ethics extends review of McMorris Rodgers

(CNN) – The House Ethics Committee announced Monday it was extending its investigation into allegations that Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers violated House rules and federal campaign laws by using official staff to perform political work for her re-election campaign.

McMorris Rodgers is the fourth-ranking House Republican. Viewed as a rising star in a party that has struggled to gain support among women voters, she was tapped by House Speaker John Boehner earlier this year to give the GOP response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

Along with its announcement, the Ethics Committee released a report by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics outlining the allegations against McMorris Rodgers. It details instances when aides from her congressional office helped her prepare for campaign debates and wrote news releases and speeches specifically for political events. The OCE report also found that an outside campaign consultant who was on McMorris Rodger's political payroll provided services for her office, such as preparing her for events after her election and interviewing candidates for jobs on her official staff.

The report also raises allegations that McMorris Rodgers improperly mixed official funds and campaign money in her race against Rep. Tom Price of Georgia for her leadership post in 2012.

The Ethics Committee did not launch a formal probe of the matter, and it did not set any deadline for any next step, so it's unclear whether the current review will lead to any further action. After OCE sends a report to the Ethics Committee, it has 90 days to review it and state what, if any action, it will take.

A source close to McMorris Rodgers noted that because the OCE report that triggered the ethics review was sent around the Christmas holidays and the committee has spent recent weeks replacing senior staff, it was not surprising that it needed more than 90 days to look at it.

McMorris Rodgers' attorney, Elliot Berke, released a written statement predicting the Ethics Committee would ultimately dismiss the case and saying the initial complaint was based on "frivolous allegations from a single source - a former employee who then discredited himself by admitting to his own improper conduct."

Todd Winer, a former communications aide to McMorris Rodgers who was dismissed by her office, filed a complaint last year with OCE charging that the Washington state Republican had violated House rules about commingling funds for her leadership race. But the more serious allegations in the 32-page OCE report come from the numerous instances it lists where aides in McMorris Rodgers' congressional office traveled to her district for political work and attended the 2012 Republican National convention on official time.

House rules expressly prohibit the use of official resources for any campaign or political purposes. According to the House Ethics manual, any congressional aides who do any campaign work while remaining on an official congressional payroll must keep detailed records.

One e-mail exchange in the report details a debate preparation session that took place in McMorris Rodgers congressional office in the Rayburn House office building in Washington, D.C.

Regarding the 2012 leadership race, House rules do allow members to use money from personal campaign accounts and official office allowances to cover costs incurred in leadership races. But there are restrictions on mixing the two and on the types of activities that can be paid for with the funds.

But Berke's statement maintains, "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. As the record shows, the congresswoman and all other staff members complied with all laws, House rules and standards of conduct."

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. RickFromTexas

    Of course the House Ethics Committee won't investigate further, unless there's a public outcry.

    After all, there's an election in November, the GOP already has enough problems.

    Remember in November, folks.

    March 24, 2014 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  2. Teapots and Tardlicans, doubly down on Dumb

    The hypocricy of the TEAPOT Party knows no bounds

    March 25, 2014 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  3. king

    these repubs always fancy themselves as being morally competent. yet they will lie out their teeth at a drop of a dime while they fall in line of the mantra of the day. their mentality to suck money out of the economy and push it to the ubber 1 percent is scandalous. when will they open their eyes and see we dont have a US market anymore, we are in a global market. china has 4 times more spenders than we have and far less competition for US companies to strive. when will reality hit these folks. the only way we can compete with countries like china we need big ticket jobs, like obamacare, and rebuilding our crumbling country to force companies to invest here. these repubs have been fighting against that ever since they took over in 2010. where would we be if Obama didn't have dem congress for the first two years of the near depression. those dems saved the economy turning around an economy dropping at nearly nine percent GDP, to a up tick to 4.5 GDP. that nearly 12 percent GDP growth in those 2 years. since the repubs congress took over we haven't seen GDP growth past 3 percent. they have one mission and that is to fool the american people that Obama is the reason why this country is growing so slow, when they do every thing in their power not to allow the country to grow. now the american people are intend to give them both houses in congress. the establishment wants the country to fail so they can take back power, while the tea party wants it to fail to get the black man out of their white house, i guest they will do everything in their power to take their country back. they have shut down the government, destroyed our tripple A credit, killed rebuilding our infrastructure, and trying like hell now to kill universal healthcare. every thing these people do is to turn our country backward.

    March 25, 2014 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    -so you cheat you justify, nab this lady and remove from politics money making mission.

    March 25, 2014 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  5. emskadittle

    house ethics hahahahahahaha

    March 25, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  6. S. B. Stein

    This is a sad fact that we have leaders who can't do a honest job when they get to a position of power. I don't care who it is; some will screw up and not be as honest and ethical as they should be.

    March 25, 2014 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    It's all those pesky campaing rules and regs that's the problem.
    How's a girl supposed to remember all that stuff....
    Just sayin'.

    March 25, 2014 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    The Dems will investigate every single Republican this year, just to try and win.

    March 25, 2014 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  9. Enough is Enough

    Hmmmm....House controlled by Republicans....yet they are investigating a Republican. Still the progressives scream that Republicans are covering this up......really? Do you guys have even the begining of a clue? When was the last time that you saw the Dems investigate one of their own?

    March 25, 2014 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  10. Tampa Tim

    This would give Issa something legitimate to investigate. So far he has been directed by right wing hate.

    March 25, 2014 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    Psst ... Wes:

    The House Ethics Committee per Wiki:

    "The committee has an equal number of members from each party, unlike the rest of the committees, which are constituted with the majority of members and the committee chair coming from the party that controls the House. This even split has limited its power by giving either political party an effective veto over the actions of the committee."

    Republicans control the House, thus Mike Conaway R-Texas is the sitting chairman.

    March 25, 2014 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda Minnesota
    Good morning babe!
    We were like two ships passing each other in the night yesterday I think.
    Thanks for the lesson on the internal make-up of the House Ethics Committee.
    Question: is the sitting chairman always member of the Party tha t controls the house? My reading comprehension tells me that that would be the case with other committees but not necessarily with the House Ethics Committee....of course it is also early in the day and I may not be fully awake yet.

    March 25, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  13. bobo

    FYI.... Breaking news! "NYT reporter: Obama administration ‘greatest enemy of press freedom’ in generation."

    March 25, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  14. CB FL

    Sound like she and Scott Walker have a lot in common.

    March 25, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  15. Sniffit

    This is one of those things where even I don't see sides. Seriously...w t f is wrong with these imbeciles?

    "The Dems will investigate every single Republican this year, just to try and win."

    Hey, genius, guess who controls the House and the chairmanship of the Ethics Committee. Guess.

    March 25, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  16. Ol' Yeller

    @Enough is Enough
    Hey, you really shouldn't start tooting you fairness horn, just yet. The investigations derwood issa has had hearings on in front of the entire house have all been against Dems. This is just a committee... not the whole house (that whole reading comprehension thing always gets you guys).
    You could end up looking silly, but then again, you always do....

    March 25, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |