As promised, the House ethics committee wrapped up the investigation into ex-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) on Friday, fulfilling ranking member Howard Berman’s (D-Calif.) Oct. 5 commitment to conclude in “weeks not months.” But the investigative panel also was pressed to wrap up the probe because the committee roster will change significantly in the 110th Congress.
While Minority Leader-elect John Boehner (R-Ohio) asked Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) last week to stay on the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct as ranking member next year, GOP aides said he will be the only Republican currently on the panel to hold over for the next Congress.
The remaining four GOP Members will be vacating the panel for a variety of reasons. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), who served on the Foley investigative subcommittee, has fulfilled the six-year term generally assigned to Members tapped to serve on the panel. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) will become ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) is heading over to the National Republican Congressional Committee to chair the campaign operation for the 2008 election cycle. Rep. Melissa Hart (R-Pa.) was defeated on Election Day.
On the other side of the aisle, Berman is exiting the panel because he already has served six years as ranking member. Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked Berman to rejoin the panel earlier this year when former ranking member Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) had to exit the panel following revelations that he was under investigation in regards to earmarks he had steered to his home state.
It is unclear if Mollohan will return to the panel next year, but Democratic aides suggested that scenario is unlikely in the short-term, in part because Mollohan and Hastings shared a chilly working relationship on a committee that relies heavily on bipartisanship.
Berman has said he does not want to be ethics chairman. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), who also served on the Foley subcommittee, is second-ranking on the panel.
One Democratic aide said Pelosi has not yet begun the process of determining who will serve in the next Congress. None of the remaining three Democrats have yet served six years on the panel. They include Reps. Gene Green (Texas), Lucille Roybal-Allard (Calif.), and Mike Doyle (Pa.).
One indication of prospective Members could come from the current “ethics pool,” which consists of 10 Members from each party who are selected by their party leader to serve on investigative subcommittees if it is warranted.
In May, Hastert named GOP Reps. Spencer Bachus (Ala.), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Jo Bonner (Ala.), Ander Crenshaw (Fla.), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (Fla.), Phil English (Pa.), Tom Latham (Iowa), Frank Lucas (Okla.), Mike Simpson (Idaho) and Greg Walden (Ore.) to the pool.
Pelosi selected Democratic Reps. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), Mike Capuano (Mass.), Ben Chandler (Ky.), Bill Delahunt (Mass.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), Bobby Scott (Va.), Hilda Solis (Calif.), Bart Stupak (Mich.), Ellen Tauscher (Calif.) and Chris Van Hollen (Md.).