House Ethics Committee

Tips and calls to the Office of Congressional Ethics spiked last session
More than 13,300 private citizens reached out to group charged with reviewing misconduct allegations

Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi receives the gavel from outgoing House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in January. The pair announced Office of Congressional Ethics appointees for the 116th Congress on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Citizen outreach to the Office of Congressional Ethics more than doubled in the 115th Congress, but the agency’s pre-election blackout period means they didn’t take action on any cases in the last quarter of 2018.

More than 13,300 private citizens contacted the Office of Congressional Ethics during the 115th Congress, up from 6,285 in the 114th Congress, according to the OCE’s most recent quarterly report. The contacts fall into two categories: allegations of misconduct and requests for information about the OCE.

Rep. Tim Ryan files ethics complaint on Steve King’s promotion of hate website
Complaint could revive efforts to censure Iowa Republican congressman

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan accused Republican Rep. Steve King of using his House site of promoting white nationalism. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Tim Ryan filed a complaint with the House Ethics Committee this week saying that Rep. Steve King is using his official House website to promote a white nationalist blog.

The move could revive efforts by Ryan and Illinois Democrat Bobby L. Rush to censure King for his racist comments.

Florida’s Ted Deutch to lead House Ethics Committee
Panel has taken on high-profile investigations of members in recent years

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., will lead the House Ethics panel in the 116th Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Florida’s Ted Deutch will be the new chairman of the House Ethics Committee, which has taken on high-profile investigations of members in recent years.

“House Democrats are thrilled to welcome Congressman Ted Deutch as Chair of the Ethics Committee, where his towering integrity and firm commitment to fairness and justice will be invaluable to our mission to restore transparency, ethics and accountability to the Congress,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday. As leader of her party, Pelosi appoints the chair of the Ethics panel, along with other committees such as House Administration and Rules. 

House Ethics reminds members and staff of rules for life after Congress
Memo came with just hours left in the 115th Congress

Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn., walks down the House steps following the final votes as the House of Representatives leaves town for their summer recess in July. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a memo released Thursday with just hours left in the 115th Congress, the House Ethics Committee reminded departing lawmakers of criminal restrictions on certain job-hunting practices.

Outgoing members and staff have been planning their next career moves for months. The memo reminds members to “familiarize themselves with ... the criminal restrictions on post-employment communications.” It also says that members should be careful when negotiating for future employment, especially with anyone who could be “substantially affected by the Member’s performance of official duties.”

The Ethics Nightmare Before Christmas
Whatever you do, don’t eat the pizza

Toy soldier Christmas decorations stand guard in front of the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building on Dec. 6. Holiday parties on the Hill can be an ethical minefield. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

December can be a minefield for members of Congress and staff trying to celebrate, socialize and not step over the line. With the holiday season already well underway, inboxes are strewn with invitations, and booze and gifts lie in wait at every turn.

Whatever you do, don’t eat the pizza. At parties around Washington, it’s not the calories that count — it’s whether the food and drink comply with strict ethical guidelines.

Staff Testimony and Report Released In Ethics Case Against Rep. Thomas Garrett
Virginia Republican announced in May he would be leaving Congress to confront his excessive drinking

The Office of Congressional Ethics released its report on their investigation into Rep. Tom Garrett, R-Va., Wednesday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Office of Congressional Ethics released its report on allegations against  Rep. Thomas Garrett Tuesday, including testimony from staffers past and present.  The House Ethics Committee announced that it is continuing its own inquiry, but has not yet impaneled an investigative subcommittee.

The House Ethics panel began the inquiry into the outgoing Virginia Republican on June 8 and received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics on Sept. 5 and extended the inquiry in late September.

Clock Ticks Down on Sexual Harassment Proposals for Congress
#MeToo provided momentum earlier in the year, but that has stalled

Congress is running out of time to enact changes to how sexual harassment is handled in their own workplace. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Congress is running out of time to make changes to how sexual harassment is handled in its own workplace, as negotiations between House and Senate proposals drag on and legislative days dry up.

Leaders in both chambers say they want to finish reconciling the legislation and move toward implementing change before the lame-duck session is over, but it’s unclear if that will happen.

If You Get a Holiday Gift Basket, One Option Is to ‘Destroy’ It
House Ethics Committee reminds Congress that the rules still apply, even in December

The House Ethics Committee issued a memo reminding lawmakers and staff of the gift rules. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of Congress and their staff got a friendly reminder Thursday that the House gift rule still applies, “even during the holiday season.”

The House Ethics Committee circulated a memo with guidance for navigating the tricky month of December, complete with steps for accepting certain presents and tips for handling an “unacceptable” gift.

House Ethics Extends Probe into Rep. Jim Renacci
Jurisdiction over Ohio Republican ends Jan. 3, when he leaves Congress

The House Ethics Committee has extended its inquiry into Rep. Jim Renacci. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Ethics Committee has extended its inquiry into Rep. Jim Renacci, the panel said in a release Monday, although it has only until Jan. 3, when the Ohio Republican leaves Congress, to exercise its jurisdiction in the matter. 

The Ethics Committee began reviewing the case against the Ohio Republican when the panel received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics on Aug. 9. Renacci, who was elected in 2010 to represent northern Ohio, set out to run for governor of the Buckeye State at the start of the 2018 campaign cycle. But at the urging of President Donald Trump, Renacci changed lanes and ran for the Senate. He lost to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Ethics Committee Cites ‘Recent Experience’ as Need for Sexual Harassment Overhaul
Panel suggests difficulty obtaining information from the Office of Compliance

The House Ethics Committee is urging quick passage of legislation to address sexual harassment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The 10 members of the House Ethics Committee are urging the top four congressional leaders to quickly pass anti-sexual harassment legislation to overhaul the Congressional Accountability Act, noting the House bill would provide solutions to problems the panel has encountered this year. 

In a letter dated Monday that all members signed, they cite the House bill’s provision that would require the Office of Compliance, which would be renamed the Office of Workplace Rights, to refer certain matters to the committee, providing the panel access to any records regarding investigations, hearings, decisions, settlements or claims.